The Tashalar

Capitol: Tashluta

Population: 889,920 (humans 94% [Tashalans 83%, Calishites 12%, Chultans 3%, Shaarans 1%], lizardfolk 4%, yuan-ti 1%)

Government: Merchant oligarchy

Religions: Amphisbaena the World Serpent (Sseth [now Set]), Chauntea, Malar, Savras, Talona, Waukeen

Imports: Beef, calantra, fruit, silver, slaves

Exports: Calantra wood carvings, cheese, crossbows, died fabric, glass, olive oil, olives, seafood, ships, spices, wine

Alignment: CN, N, NE

Although many use the term "the Tashalar" to broadly refer to the Tashtan Coast, which stretches from Narubel to Sheirtalar, in truth it refers only to the Tashalar Basin, which is encircled by the peaks of the Hazur Mountains. The Tashalar is a verdant coastal area full of bountiful vineyards, gardens, and groves of olive trees. Tashalaran harvests are shipped north to ports in Calimshan and along the Lake of Steam, and from there to the rest of Faerûn. Tashalaran grapes are so perfect that even the worst vineyard of the region produces wines worth 100 gp or more in Waterdeep.

Life and Society

Tashalarans are famed for their skilled craftsmanship, hunting prowess, shipbuilding, exotic spicy cuisine, and winemaking, and they have adopted much of the high culture of Calimshan over the years. Tashlutans (as inhabitants of the capitol city are known) are warm and welcoming to strangers, and many speak foreign tongues. Attitudes quickly change in the smaller settlements of the countryside, however.

Most of the Chultans, lizardfolk, and Shaarans living in the Tashalar are slaves purchased in foreign markets. But slaves comprise only a small percentage of the total population, despite the willingness of Tashalaran merchants to traffic in sentient lives. Most Tashalaran commoners labor in the fields, groves, or vineyards, although some work as sailors, shipwrights, sailmakers and provisioners. The wealthy merchant families dwell in ostentatious palaces, dividing their time between their country estates (most of which include a hamlet just outside the villa walls) and the elite districts of Tashluta. Hunting is a popular sport among the merchant nobility, and the bravest hunters seek out the deadly denizens of the Black Jungles (albeit in the tamer reaches north of the Tashan Gap) as trophies.

The merchants of the Tashalar defend their country with a fleet of fast ships, most of which have fallen under the influence of a consortium of aggressive traders known as the Rundeen. This group, based in Tashluta, effectively controls the ruling Tashalaran oligarchy and dominates all trade into and out of the Tashalar. Despite the loss of their monopoly on shipping on the Shining Sea, the Rundeen also dominate Calishite shipping through a recently revived partnership with the Knights of the Shield, a secretive organization of spies active in Amn, Calimshan, and Tethyr.

Major Geographic Features

The Tashalar is a widely varied region that supports a variety of geographical features.

Cape Talath: This prominent cape is known for its towering cliffs and the fierce tides that endanger any ship that dares the surrounding waters. The centuries-old subterranean passage known as Labrand's Folly (see below) gives rise to these surging waves, and all navigators of the Tashtan Coast give this promontory a wide berth.

Delphin Mountains: The eastern spur of the northern Hazur Mountains, east of the Tashan Gap, is known locally as the Delphin Mountains. Nominally forming the pastern border of the Tashalar, the peaks of this range are the demesne of a tribe of short-tempered stone giants. From their enormous rock mansions situated on remote peaks, they trade gems for fine wine, and access to ancient serpentfolk ruins and lore for dragon turtle meat.

Hazur Mountains: The Hazur Mountains form a natural border between the Tashalar, Thindol, and the Black Jungles. The scattered-gold and iron mines in the northwestern Hazur Mountains produce sufficient minerals to support the economies of both the Tashalar and Thindol. The mines on the northern and eastern slopes are operated by Tashalarans, while those on the southern and western slopes are owned by small communities of Thindolese gold dwarves. Clusters of salamanders emerge periodically from abandoned mineshafts that lead down into the Burning Rift in the Underdark, beneath the Jungles of Chult. Soldiers from Thindol patrol the western slopes in the southern half of the range, while the eastern slopes are stalked by the Se'Sehen and Jennestas yuan-ti tribes of the Black Jungles. In the center of the range, deep shafts lead down into the depths, delivering blasts of fresh air to the subterranean waterway known as Labrand's Folly.

Labrand's Folly: In the Year of the Whipped Cur (336 DR), a Halruaan wizard named Labrand came into possession of the Crown of the Mountain, an ancient artifact now worn by Valamaradace, the Dragon Queen of the Silver Marches. He used the powers of the crown to carve a subterranean waterway from the tip of Cape Talath to the head of the Thingulph in Thindol. Airshafts dot the tunnel at random intervals, opening up in the heights of the western Hazur Mountains.(including the bottom of one old quarry).

Exactly what Labrand hoped to accomplish by carving the tunnel is unclear, although most suspect that he intended to create a lucrative trade route between the Shining Sea and the Great Sea that would negate the need for a long sea voyage around the Horn of Chult. Whatever Labrand intended, his passage has become home to the water-dwelling yuan-ti of the Sseradess tribe and the kuo-toa of Gathgoolgapool (a city-state in the middle Underdark, located midway between the Shining Sea and the Great Sea and between the Firelands and the Serpent Deeps). If ease of shipping was Labrand's goal, he failed, since the fierce tides that rage through the tunnel as a result of the airshafts render it all but impassable to ships. Furthermore, the surging waters that boil from the passage also make navigation around Cape Talath and near the head of the Thinguth extremely treacherous.

Tashalar Basin: The Tashalar Basin lies at the heart of the Tashtan Coast, encircled by the Hazur Mountains. Dotted with groves of olive trees and vineyards and blessed with warm and sunny weather, the Tashalar Basin is a lovely and fertile vale. Outside of Tashluta, the basin supports a few small farming villages in the central valley and several large merchant estates, most of which are located on the flanks of the encircling peaks and along the northern shore. Most monsters native to the area have been long since slaughtered or driven south into the Black Jungles, although agents of the yuan-ti lurk in most communities. Periodic incursions of scaled and scaleless undead emerging from the many barrows that dot the region are perhaps the greatest threat to security, but ancient weapons are sometimes recovered from such harrows after their former inhabitants have been put to rest.

Tashan Gap, The: The Tashan Gap, with its low, jungle-covered peaks, divides the Delphin Mountains from the rest of the Hazur chain. This section of the Black Jungles is actually a montane cloud forest, perpetually cloaked in mist. All travelers moving between the Tashalar Basin and the Lapal Sea must pass through the Tashan Gap, since the surrounding mountains are too rough and steep for passage.

This section of the mountains is home to a small tribe of fog giants who have long been allied with the Se'Sehen tribe. The giants lair in the ruins of an unnamed fortress built millennia ago during the Couatl-Yuan-ti Wars.

Important Sites

The Tashalar features several sites of interest to adventurers.

Abbey of Tharynd: In the mountains east of the Tashan Gap, the followers of Selûne have established a subterranean abbey in a great natural cavern. At the center of the cavern is the Moonshaft Pool, which lies directly beneath a great natural shaft that opens to the sky above. Side caverns lead off into the Underdark, and dangerous monsters occasionally emerge from below to attack the Moonmaiden's followers. The Pool of Tharynd is said to have many magical powers, and waters taken from it retain the properties of moondraught for at least a day.

Many pilgrims from the city of Sammaresh travel to and from the abbey, despite the hazards that such trips entail and the need to cross into the Tashalar from Lapaliiya. Because of the popularity of this journey, the Moonmaiden's followers have established a series of waystations along the path that threads through the mountains. Pilgrims are granted free passage along the trail, but others must pay a small toll. The trail turns south and leads into the Black Jungles just beyond the abbey, but that part of the trail is wholly unsecured and guarded by yuan-ti of the Se'Se~hen tribe.

Crypt of Anthilar: Anthilar, the legendary Archmage of Untisczer, escaped the destruction of his city by - the Shoon Imperium in the Year of Wasteful Pride (285 DR} and fled to a secret lair in the mountains west of the Tashan Gap. There he became a lich, working in secret to control the merchants of Tashluta.

In the Year of the Laughing Dead (1056 DR), Anthilar suddenly reappeared in the streets of Tashluta and unmasked the leading oligarch as a yuan-ti abomination in disguise. The resultant spell battle killed the abomination and incapacitated the lich, although his phylactery was never found. Before the lich could reawaken, his body was encased in a massively armored metal "lich's coffin" and shipped north for study by the senior priests of the Skullspire in Tulmon. But the coffin never reached the Myrkulyte Conclave of Doom. Instead, it passed through many hands before coming to rest in the hoard of Tostyn Alaerthmaugh, a young adult male mercury dragon lairing in the depths of Everlake, in the heart of the Evermoors. There it lies to this day, still unopened.

Today, many adventurers search for the legendary Crypt of Anthilar, hoping to retrieve the spellskins of Mhairshaulk it reportedly contains. Few, if any, have ever returned. Some believe that Anthilar can manifest as a ghost from afar, and that he returns periodically to ensure that his lair remains inviolate.

House of Night's Embrace: This fortified temple-palace towers over the rest of Tashluta from its position on the western ridge of the city's caldera. The House of Night's Embrace is currently the Lady of Poison's preeminent temple in Faerûn. Led by Lady Doom Thalaera Indlerith (CE female Tashlutan human cleric 12 of Talona/Divine Disciple 10 of Talona), the House is defended by an army of black-masked guards assisted by gargoyles and golems. In its secretive depths, the Priestesses of the Lady's Night make poison, potions that spread disease, and antidotes to both, which they sell at high prices.

Agents of the Night's Embrace tour wealthy houses, noble country seats, and royal courts throughout Faerûn, posing as purveyors of fine wines and perfumes. Their true calling, however, is an open secret. Many of the priestesses employed in this duty dabble in local politics (and love lives) for their own entertainment.

House of the All-Seeing Orb: Since Savras's release from the Scepter of Savras, this ancient edifice on the eastern ridge of Tashluta's caldera has regained the preeminence it once held among the temples of the All-Seeing One. This sprawling complex is administered by the Farseer (LN male Tashlutan human cleric 8 of Savras/diviner 10/mystic theurge 10), arguably the most powerful diviner in Faerûn after Zalathorm, the Wizard-King of Halruaa. Home to more than a thousand scholars, the temple houses the College of Divination, the Celestial Observatory, and the Library of Ultimate Truth. Many of the scrying devices used in Faerûn and quite a few of the newer arcane divination spells were constructed or researched at this temple.

Procalith: The ruins of Procalith, founded in the Year of Distant Thunder (16 DR), lie at the foot of the Delphin Mountains, overlooking the Dolphingulf. In its heyday, Procalith was ruled by a succession of kings, many of whom were installed by the Shoon Imperium or the Tashalar's ruling oligarchs. It was destroyed by a sorcery-driven storm during the Rage of Wizards in the Year of the Sword's Oath (1142 DR).

Some explorers come to the ruins in search of the Seer of Procalith, a mysterious sage-diviner with a nigh-encyclopedic knowledge of Mhairshaulk, Serpentes, and the history and magic of the serpentfolk. Treasure seekers are lured by tales of the Rod of Auglad, a unique Netherese scepter thought to have been hidden in the city by Nasana Melnuthquel, who was Magister from 293 DR to 297 DR, and also Auglad's lover. Whether or not the Rod exists, Procalith's ruins still contain a fair amount of treasure, as well as a large number of outlaws who have claimed portions of the ruins for their own.

Tashluta (Metropolis, 51,122): The City of Slithering Vines lies in the center of the Tashtan Coast, right in the middle of the Tashalar Basin. Built on the inner slopes of a flooded caldera that serves as the city's harbor, Tashluta is a natural port, a wealthy mercantile city, and the capitol of the Tashalar. The Stormwall, a thin, curving island, protects the harbor from the storms of the Shining Sea. Stormwall Keep runs the length of the island's ridge, protecting the harbor against pirate raids and naval assaults. The depths of Tashluta's harbor are unplumbed, and the flooded lava tubes of the ancient volcano stretch all the way down into the Serpent Deeps (see above).

Tashluta's skyline is dominated by sprawling edifices along the ridges of the ancient caldera. To the west lies the temple of Talona known as House of Night's Embrace, and to the east lies the House of the All-Seeing Orb, a temple to Savras. Along the southern ridgeline stand the mansions of Tashluta's mercantile elite, and below these are the smaller homes of Tashluta's middle and lower classes. In general, proximity to the harbor is regarded as a mark of low status.

The capitol of the Tashalar is the common port for visitors to the Chultan Peninsula because only here do the locals learn many foreign tongues. Tashlutans enjoy playing jokes - usually involving incredibly spicy food - on foreigners. Because the populace is ever fearful of encroachment by the yuan-ti, snakes of any sort and most other reptiles are immediately killed.

Regional History

Tashluta and the Tashalar were first settled by Lapal field hands from Lapaliiya and Calishite merchants in the Year of Plentiful Wine (583 DR). The Tashalar quickly grew to rival its easterly neighbor in wealth, thanks to its lucrative vineyards and olive groves, although both realms coexisted peacefully.

In the Year of Clutching Dusk (-375 DR), rat-laden Calishite trading ships spread the Empire Plague throughout the ports of the Shining Sea, wiping out more than half of the Tashalar's population. Thus, when Sseth founded the Serpentes Empire in the Year of Erupting Crypts (-304 DR), human resistance against the newly resurgent serpentfolk was weak and disorganized. By the Year of Sunned Serpents (-189 DR), the lizardfolk armies of Serpentes had conquered all of the Tashalar, and most of the wealthy Calishite expatriates had fled back to their native land.

After Sseth's disappearance in the Year of Dreams (10 DR), infighting among the yuan-ti tribes enabled the enslaved Tashalarans to overthrow their yuan-ti satrap and drive the Se'Sehen tribe from the Tashalar over the next ten years. The resurgent Tashalarans then marched eastward, liberating the Cities of the Seabreeze one by one. In the Year of Purloined Power (34 DR), the Oligarchs of Tashluta proclaimed the Confederation of Tashtan and claimed dominion from the town of Narubel to the Sheir Peninsula, plus all the Shining Sea coastal lands in between. The diverse Lapalians, Calishites, Chultans, and Shaarans dwelling in these areas became known collectively as Tashalans.

For two centuries, the merchants ships of Tashtan plied the warm waters of the Lake of Steam and the Shining Sea, making their owners fat and wealthy. This period of prosperity came to an end during Ergith Klavulgrun's reign as Magister (276 DR to 278 DR), when "the Kingslayer" slaughtered nearly a dozen merchant lords of Tashalaran cities and neighboring realms. The resulting leadership crisis left Tashtan ill-prepared to handle demands from Qysara Shoon V (281 DR to 300 DR) that the Cities of the Seabreeze each garrison a legion of imperial troops. A failed uprising in Untisczer in the Year of Wasteful Pride (285 DR) was all the excuse the qysara needed to initiate the longplanned Tashalar Campaigns.

After destroying Untisczer in a show of imperial might, the qysara's troops quickly installed military governors in every city along the Tashtan coast. The reach of the Shoon Imperium was then extended westward into the savage land of Thindol, which had long been claimed by the barbaric humans of the Thinguth tribe and certain warring tribes of lizardfolk (loosely controlled servitors of the yuan-ti tribes in Serpentes). The Lizard Wars in Thindol marked the end of the Tashalar Campaigns and sharply reduced the number of lizardfolk on the central Chultan Peninsula.

By the death of Qysara Shoon V in the Year of the Late Sun (300 DR), Shoon satraps ruled greater Thindol, the Tashalar, the cities of Lapaliiya, and all the major settlements of the Shaar as far east as the Landrise. A steady stream of tribute flowed west and north to the coffers of Shoonach. Less than a century later, the crumbling of the Imperium under the careless reign of Gysara Shaani (367 DR to 427 DR) left the Shoon satraps all but independent. Of all the Shoon Imperium's southern holdings, only Tashluta remained strictly loyal, largely because the wife of the reigning satrap was Shaani's youngest daughter. Despite the increasingly unstable situation, trade still flowed between the Chultan Peninsula and the heart of the Imperium to the north, thanks in large part to the alliance of the Tethyr- and Calimshan-based Knights of the Shield with a local Tashlutan merchant corporation known as the Rulnadeen.

When the Shoon Imperium fell in the Year of the Corrie Fist (450 DR), a quick death for the reigning viceroy of Tashluta and his haughty Shoon wife marked the Tashalans' return to independence. Backed by the Rulnadeen, the merchants of Tashluta quickly formed a ruling oligarchy to administer the Tashalar and keep the peace. Soon afterward, angered by the Knights' efforts to take over the Rulnadeen (and hence the Tashalar), leaders of the Tashlutan-based faction confronted the Knights and demanded that they sever all ties with one group or the other. Most stayed with the Rulnadeen.

The Tashlutan merchant consortium, which had became known as the Rundeen, then began extorting protection money from ships sailing the Shining Sea. All who resisted were "coincidentally" set upon by pirates from the independent city-state of Narubel, which was secretly financed by the Rundeen. By the Year of the Crawling Vine (502 DR), the Rundeen had established a monopoly on all trade entering or leaving the ports in Calimshan and the Chultan Peninsula, as well as all slave trade along the southern shores of the Shining Sea.

Rundeen-backed rule by the wealthiest merchants of the Tashalar continued for centuries, although the Rage of Wizards briefly threatened the status quo in the Year of the Sword's Oath (1142 DR). In the Year of the Bridle (1349 DR), the Harpers succeeded in killing three Rundeen leaders and fifty lesser agents. This "Treacherous Stab" broke the Rundeen monopoly in Chult and Calimshan but left the organizational heart in Tashluta whole. Today, Rundeen-backed merchant ships still dominate the traffic across the Shining Sea, but the Rundeen's centuries-old monopoly on such shipping and its control of Calishite ports has been shattered.

Eager to regain control of Calimshan's port cities, as well as Lapaliiya and the cities of the Lake of Steam, Rundeen has recently begun to take a more active and visible role in the region's affairs. To that end, the ruling Yrshelem (leaders of the Rundeen) have reforged their old alliance with the Knights of the Shield. In a deal of unprecedented treachery, the Rundeen has also forged a trade pact with the yuan-ti of the Se'Sehen tribe and admitted several yuan-ti into its rank-and-file.

Plots and Rumors

The unstable trade situation in the Tashalar may give rise to a number of adventuring opportunities.

Troubled Scrying: The clergy of the House of the All-Seeing Orb have a long-standing rivalry with the House of Night's Embrace and often work to expose the evil schemes of Talona's priestesses. In recent years, however, the temple's diviners have found hints of a greater danger brewing in the neighboring jungles, so they have been hiring adventurers to investigate. The truth of the matter is that the yuan-ti tribes of Serpentes, bed by the Se'Sehen tribe, have recently begun emerging from centuries of somnolence. Spurred by the sighting of Sseth during the Time of Troubles and the subsequent thrashing of the bound and slumbering god, the serpentfolk now seek to reestablish their ancient domain. To that end, they have been infiltrating one city after another on the Chultan Peninsula and taking covert control of their operations.

Serpent Kingdoms