An unpretentious small tower located at the foot of the Old Skull, Elminster's Tower appears to be little more than a silo or an abandoned windmill, rather than the home of one of the most powerful wizards in the Realms. It is made entirely of flagstones, with a peaked circular roof, and it is covered with vines. The structure has no outbuildings, but numerous lean-tos have been slapped onto the side and rear of the building.
Elminster's Tower lies off the main road, close up against the Old Skull. It is accessible only by a flagstone path which skirts beside the house of Tulba the Weaver. The first part of the path seems well-used, but the path grows sparser and less well trodden as it continues toward the modest fieldstone tower.
The reason for this gradual change in the path's degree of usage is probably the many warning signs and runes along it that hint at danger (though they are often couched with "please" or "thank you"). Examples include:
- Trespassers could die a quick and certain death or they could be invited in for stew. Thank you for thinking better of disturbing my privacy.
- An archmage often can react poorly to interruption. - Please reconsider before it is too late.
- No Trespassing. Violators should notify next of kin. Have a pleasant day.
- Rumors of spike-filled pits along this path are almost totally false. Thank you for your caution.
- This ancient path/Is cracked and paved/With visitors who/Could not behave. Elminster
The warning runes and signs disappear and reappear from time to time in no clear pattern. One set of sigils that is always in use is several special glyphs of warding that warn those in the tower of the approach of outsiders. As a general rule of thumb, it is impossible to sneak up on Elminster's Tower without alerting those within. The path forks, with one fork leading to the door of Elminster's Tower and the other accessing a small pond known as Elminster's Pool.
The interior of the aboveground section of Elminster's Tower is of a modest size and a disorganized nature. The top-most of the three levels is a small combination study/bedroom and is used by the Mage of Shadowdale both for his own work and as a safe place for people Elminster is trying to protect. Elminster's own quarters are on the middle level. The ground floor contains Lhaeo's outer office and anteroom in which the wizard's scribe entertains (and frustrates) guests seeking an audience with the wizard. The ground floor also holds the kitchen, which doubles as Lhaeo's bedroom as well.
The tower is magically guarded and warded to protect against the effects of lightning and fire as well as incursions, invaders, and unwanted guests. The precise nature of the protective devices are left to the DM's whims, but should be nondestructive in nature. Examples include:
- A distance distortion spell placed upon the anteroom or the spiral staircases which run between levels, creating the illusion that the rooms are much larger and farther apart than they are.
- A time stop spell that may be activated in the anteroom, to which Lhaeo and Elminster are immune.
- A rune that when pressed by Lhaeo or Elminster sends all the other living creatures in a room or in the tower to a random location in the Realms or to another plane entirely.
- Magical items at easy reach for one who knows where to grab (for example, an invisible rack of wands next to the knife rack in the kitchen).
- For those who prefer a violent solution, Elminster keeps an iron golem in the cellar. The golem can have an illusion of Lhaeo placed over it and forcibly eject individuals. Elminster will not hesitate to slay those who threaten himself or Lhaeo, though both would prefer a calmer solution.
Every flat surface in the tower is covered with paper - books, scrolls, notes, memos, little yellow sticky things, correspondence from both living and long-dead individuals, atlases, tomes, metal plates carved with runes, rubbings, charts, sketches, and all manner of other paperwork such that entire tables and chairs disappear beneath the press. Lhaeo and Elminster are both aware of where everything is, however, regardless of the apparent disorder and declarations to the contrary.
Given its modest size, there would seem to be more to Elminster's Tower than meets the eye, and this is true. Numerous extradimensional spaces exist for tools, equipment, magical items, and, of course, more books. In addition, the tower has extensive cellars beneath it that are patrolled by Elminster or his magical minions.
Lhaeo and Elminster are the sole official occupants of the tower, though Elminster may (rarely) take in a student of the Art to tutor and instruct. However, most of Elminster's time taken up with his research into the nature of reality and the myriad planes. He is often abroad in these planes - collecting, discussing, and adventuring in fields far from those of Shadowdale. He is often not present when the Dalelands are in dire need, such as the red dragon attack that claimed the life of Sylune. He has been present often enough, however, to engender the respect of the Dalesmen.
Adventurers, mages, and scholars often seek out Elminster for advice. They are usually disappointed, frustrated by an endless wait and an endless series of forms that Lhaeo demands be filled out. Those who lose their patience usually depart or get violent and are then forcibly ejected.