Tick Tary Tanner, the name at the top of the Shadowtop Cathedral Declaration (see our Emerald Enclave Declares War article for more information.) It is no exaggeration to say that this gnome has stirred up quite a conflict within Faerun as of late with his open declaration of war against Thay. Despite being on the down low due to the massive amount of attention he has received, he was gracious enough to provide the Tribune with a bit of his time for a personal interview and a reaction to our previous article on the Red War. We also have some recent comments that have been gathered from the public regarding the declaration.
Interview with Tick Tary Tanner
As the first matter, I’d like myself – and the readers – to get to know the Intrepid Gnome a bit more. Please, in your words, give us an introduction of yourself.
I started off as a simple gnome from a smaller village deep within the High Forest. I excelled in my studies, and was on track to become the village know-it-all. A great honor among my people. One day, I fell asleep under an oak tree. My friends played a practical joke on me. They moved the village. I woke up, confused, and walked in the wrong direction. I was lost for seven years until I came upon an abandoned tower. There, a raven appeared to me in my dreams, speaking an ancient dialect of sylvan, and it taught me my first magic lessons. I lived there for three years, before wandering into the civilized world. I joined the Enclave. I found a group of adventuring companions. I fought against the elemental cults, and that is the beginning of my exploits.
How did you come to be a Chosen of Shiallia?
I believe it was Shiallia, daughter of the High Forest, who protected me during my wanderings. She looks out for fragile and lost creatures, such as I was. Later, I was able to confirm her favor, on a fateful day when I fought against the dark prince of the Abyss. She protected me and my friends. We speak ever-so-often. I picked up the ability to seek her guidance as a magic initiate of the druidic arts. Unfortunately, I’m not quite skilled enough to pursue both it and my true calling of wizardry. I’m devoted to her. Not worship per se. But devotion is a good word.
Obviously a large influence in your life.
She promised me we’d sit down for tea in about 700 years or so. I don’t think I’m going to make it that long. Sadly.
If only we all would be so fortunate.
Very true. Indeed.
It seems that her influence and other things have been a large factor in your decision to create the Shadowtop Cathedral Doctrine. What was it that ultimately inspired you to make the declaration?
Unfortunately, my personal reasons are probably at odds with a more sound rhetoric. While attempting to map the multiverse, I had with me, a dear, dear companion, a couatl, who I had true polymorphed from sacred oak tree. Her name was Esfiin. One day, we encountered some Red Wizards. There was a fight, one of them dispelled Esfiin into nothingness. She was just gone. Once again, I was lost. The Shadowtop Cathedral Declaration began from a place of anger, I won’t deny it—but the reasoning that went into it is sound. I believe the Red Wizards of Thay and more specifically Szass Tam, represents one of the greatest sources of evil within Faerun. We are thinking too much in the present. They are playing a very long game for further influence and control of our world.
As you’re well aware I’m sure, many have spoken out against the declaration and made personal attacks against you.
Ha. I am aware. I believe one member of the Lords’ Alliance said I have made myself an enemy of peace, order and good civilization. I understand why he is so afraid of me. What I have proposed is frightening. Oh, he also called me a “gnome terrorist.”
I did a study of the most commonly used words, and ‘fool’ was generally the most used.
Probably some of my adventuring companions! As a wizard, I’ve been told I’m supposed to stay at the back. I’ve never been good at that, especially when my friends are at the front lines.
And how are they faring; the ones who have co-signed this document with you?
The ones who have co-signed it, I’ve kept in close contact with all of them. We are anxious and on guard. Ready to see who will join us or not. We’ve been making plans, but nothing I can share. Obviously.
You mentioned that you have been called a ‘terrorist’. Do you have rules of engagement that you have laid down for your group?
I mean, the Shadowtop Cathedral Declaration itself lays out a basic strategy for undoing the Red Wizards with virtually no bloodshed. It is economic, diplomatic, political, and it exploits the fragile hierarchy for which they are so well known. Unfortunately, that strategy depended on unity between the factions. I made a mistake in my judgment. The factions want it to be their plan, and so you can’t give them one, you have to ask for one. But then, it lacks poetry and cohesion. It’s a problem. Tell the Order of the Gauntlet to do what comes natural to them, and they will find a new calling. It is frustrating. I won’t deny it.
But yes, we have rules of engagement. My group will never fight within the cities or never near populated areas. We’re not looking for open field combat. We’re moving the battle lines away from innocent civilians.
It seems that the response from the factions was not what you expected then. In your view, how much does this change the ability to affect the situation in Thay?
That’s a good question. I did not expect the Red Wizards to move the conversation to Mulmaster, and to hold it as the bargaining chip. Each faction—despite my criticisms—is filled with good people who want to do the right thing. They are merely responding to the pull of their own conscience. Within my own faction, the Enclave is filled with varied opinions. But there is an expression among some of the High Forest tribes: “You will know the leader on the day of battle. Run toward the enemy, and see if anyone follows you.” So, even if I am alone, I will continue to fight. But I have stepped back in some ways, hoping for other voices to give their insight. With this in mind, I intentionally turned down an offer to join the Mulmaster summit—instead recommending an Enclave member who threatened to kill me, if any innocent lives were lost as a result of my actions. I’m just trying to do the right thing. Plus, how can you not be charmed when someone threatens your life?
It must be hard to see a city you fought for against the cults be caught in the middle of this.
Actually, I spent much of my fight against the cults in Tyar Besil, deep underneath the Sumber Hills, near Red Larch. I did not visit Mulmaster until much later. But my heart goes out to this city. It is true. The factions did not do enough to safeguard it. I’m heartened by the Zhentarim who have taken up a charge to reclaim it. Oddly enough, the Lords’ Alliance seem most resigned to giving the city over to the Red Wizards, trusting in Thay’s false charity. There is an gnomish expression: “Ni te pharkalu, quo lun verra lu.” Translated, it means, “If you see it, it’s not the right it.” The first impression has been deliberately concocted. Be wary.
Let’s talk again in another tenday and all of this may have changed. It’s easy to look like a fool when everything is in such flux. Of course, I’m not afraid to look foolish. I don’t know if that’s good or not.
If the factions do not pledge their support or even move against you, how will you manage to accomplish the goals of the declaration?
“Melchaen baruk bar kolen.” I will lure the badger from her burrow. Even if we are few in numbers, we can catch the Red Wizards off guard, when we choose where and when and how we fight. I have spoken to leaders within every faction. There are people in each faction who have secretly pledged their support to me. I was alone for many years in the High Forest. I am not alone now. But then again, the Red Wizards may catch me off guard and make me look foolish. So who knows? Hopefully, I know what I’m doing.
Many great heroes have fallen to the Red Wizards. I know the risks involved. I know the stakes. But still, we must face down the evils in our world, and say, “This world does not belong to you.”
Reaction to Thay vs Faerûn
As an extra response, Tick gave us his reaction to our previous article on a potential war with Thay.
Firstly, your mention of Thay having “secret arcane weapons of mass destruction.” I have my sources as, no doubt, you have yours. And the subject is worthy of much discussion and analysis. But out of context, it can came across as unnecessary fearmongering. Truly, the nation of Thay has many troublesome artifacts tucked away. Szass Tam is a well-known collector of such items. If anything, this only increases our need to act.
Secondly, your concern about “tens of thousands of innocent civilians” is not without merit. But it does presume the nature of our war to be traditional—when I doubt it will be so. Our efforts are to almost completely circumvent the loss of civilian life. Fortunately, the geography is in our favor. The territory between the Moonsea and the Sea of Fallen Stars, along the north to northeast edge of the EarthSpur Mountains is fairly desolate. Our bigger concern is that Red Wizards have access to too many teleportation circles, which should be exclusively for our factions. We need to change the proverbial locks on the doors. The factions need to make this a priority. We have to shut down Thay’s ability to easily move throughout Faerun. Even still, they can’t move an entire army by way of teleportation.
Thirdly, your fear of Thay’s arcane skill outpacing our own is certainly valid, but we have made headway in this area. The libraries of Candlekeep, the Vault of the Sages, and even my personal library contain tomes, which may yet give us the upper hand. I cannot say much more on this.
Fourthly, you say that the public declaration of war has evaporated our ability to catch the Thayans by surprise. My new friend, you forget that I am a master illusionist. I might know a thing or two about hiding in plain sight. We reveal what we want to reveal precisely to keep them on guard and off guard. The Red Wizards wear their affiliation boldly, proudly—the scarlet robe, the tattoos, the bald head. But as for us? Any adventurer holding a sword or staff may be a threat to them. Any beast of the wild or approaching storm might serve our cause. They are surrounded, and no shots have yet been fired.
Fifthly, this war will be unlike any other. I think we both agree on this point. The stifling hierarchy of the Red Wizards will be its undoing. The center will not hold. The Lords’ Alliance could single-handedly undo the Thayans simply by ceasing trade and diplomatic courtesy. Not that they would. In my original declaration, I suggested Goldenfields place a tariff on Alliance cities that continued to deal with Thay, something completely with its rights. The Lords’ Alliance took this gesture as a hostile act against them, as if they had never seen a tax on trade goods before. I’m astounded that a gnome who spent much of his life wandering the High Forest knows more about the cross section of politics and economics than the leaders of the Lords’ Alliance. I sincerely believe the Lords’ Alliance could end a war without a single battle, if they simply used their political resources to shut the Thayans off from the rest of Faerun. The Order of the Gauntlet too, with their paladins and clerics, could completely dismantle the undead armies—and liberate the slaves of Faerun, if they wanted to. But their Order is divided. So, we fight with what we have, and I sincerely believe it will be more than sufficient.
Sixthly, diplomacy is not mutually-exclusive with military action. If anything, they work well together. It is inaccurate to suggest we only have one option or the other. We till the field. We sow. We tend. We unroot. We reap. Many actions upon on field, one harvest. The Goldenfields farmer, the Triboar merchant, the Neverwinter fisher — I am very concerned with their future, and everyone across Faerun. We move the battle lines far from them, so that hopefully, the Thayans never disrupt their way of life.
Despite his encouraging words, there are many citizens who disagree with his optimistic view.
“Both Aglarond and Mulhorand have periodically had the same notion as these ‘Faerunian’ sources are discussing,” said Khorroth Nathandem, when asked about the situation, “and both discovered that assaulting a nation of practiced spellcasters was the height of folly. I am, as is well-known, no supporter of Thay, its causes, its practices, or its desperate ambitions; however, I am clear-eyed enough to see that the Simbul stood against them for years untold and was able to contain them, but never destroy them. In such a course lies wisdom.”
Archmage Oroson is another who spoke out against the declaration: “While Thay has done evil acts in the past, and may have schemes brewing still, the Emerald Enclave declaring an open war against Thay is foolish and childish.” We should gather in council and discuss any problems at hand and deal with them accordingly instead of risking thousands of innocent lives in a pursuit of a perceived greater good. I do wish the best for the Emerald Enclave should a war of sorts arise from these past series of letters and declarations. However, should a terrible fate befall them, then it will be of their own doing.”
However, it is not without its public supporters like Badger, who when asked for comment, immediately proclaimed: “Tell the Thayans I’ll be collecting ugly tattooed heads.” Similar sentiments were issued by other individuals, calling for the disbanding or death of the zulkirs and Szass Tam.
I would like to remind our readers that the views expressed in the comments of interviewees are not representative of the viewpoint of the Thunderquill Tribune.