History of Thay
Politics and Power
In Thay, politics and power are inextricably related. Those in charge are those who have the power to take charge. Most of
the Red Wizards (essentially the ruling class) are of noble birth and would command obedience and fealty in any land by virtue of their bloodlines alone, but those at the very top - the zulkirs - have to claw their way there.
The growing wealth of the Guild of Foreign Trade may be changing this time-honored tradition. The Guild's officers have been catapulted to astounding wealth by the success of the mercantile enclaves. The wisest among them realize that such power can be ephemeral, especially if the more warlike tharchs and zulkirs get their way, so they are doing everything they can to secure their long-term positions. Chief among these is Master of the Guild Samas Kul (LE male human Tra7/Red5), the organization's top officer. He has made himself one of the most influential and powerful Red Wizards, second only to the zulkirs.
History of Thay
Ever since its founding, Thay has been ruled by ambitious wizards who believe their ultimate destiny is to rule the world. Although they have extended their rule into the Wizards' Reach and the Lapendrar vale, they've had less success in subjugating the neighboring realms of Aglarond and Rashemen. However, with the opening of Thayan enclaves in cities across Faerûn, the Red Wizards can finally claim to have extended their territory across most of the continent. Before an enclave is built, the Red Wizards insist that the local government cede the land to Thay and Thay's laws apply within the walls of these disparate and far-flung places.
|wizard Thayd leads a rebellion of mages against Mulhorand and Unther, seizing the northern provinces of both empires as his own territory.
|Thayd and his conspirators are defeated.
|Orcgate opens in the southern portion of the Plateau of Thay. Hundreds of thousands of orcs inundate the northern possessions of both Mulhorand and Unther.
|Year of Stone Giant
|Year of Leather Shields
|Mulhorandi launch invasion of Rashemen from Delhumide but are driven back by the berserkers and Witches.
|Year of Blue Shield
|Escalant is founded on the Wizards' Reach by Chessentans.
|Year of Scarlet Sash
|Unther recognizes the League of Samathar, conceding independence of the Wizards' Reach.
|Year of Spouting Fish
|Ythazz Buvaar leads the Red Wizard rebellion against Mulhorand; Delhumide is sacked.
|Year of Flashing Eyes
|Chessenta rebels against Unther.
|Year of Fell Wizardry
|Red Wizards attempt to invade Rashemen through the Gorge of Gauros but are repelled.
|Year of Guiding Crow
|Tchazzar of Chessenta conquers the Wizards' Reach.
|Year of Slaying Spells
|Mulhorandi invasion of Thay is repelled.
|Year of Warlords
|Zulkirs established as rulers of Thay.
|Year of Tightening Fist
|zulkirs crush the last opposition to their rule over Thay.
|Year of Seer's Fires
|Thay captures Nethjet and Nethentir, extending the tharch of Lapendrar.
|Year of Bloody Fields
|Thay marches on Phent, but the combined forces of Impilturan and Theskian cities defeat the Red Wizards' army.
|Year of Bloody Wave
|zulkirs launch their first invasion of Aglarond. The Thayans are defeated in the Battle of the Singing Sands.
|Year of Sundered Shields
|Thayans attack Aglarond again and are driven back after the Battle of Brokenheads.
|Year of Broken Blade
|Halacar of Aglarond launches an invasion of Thay, advancing along the Lapendrar. The Red Wizards destroy his army.
|Year of Manticore
|zulkirs launch an invasion of Mulhorand that ravages Murghôm and the northern districts of that land.
|Year of Watching Cold
|Great Inner Sea Plague ravages the coast. The Thayans withdraw from the Wizards' Reach to escape the disease.
|Year of Dreamwebs
|zulkir of enchantment leads an attempt to control the minds of influential people through their dreams. The efforts of the Red Wizards are eventually thwarted.
|Year of Weeping Moon
|Samas Kul becomes Master of the Guild of Foreign Trade, a minor post at the time.
|Year of Moonfall
|Samas Kul arranges the concession of a small Thayan Quarter in the city of Procampur, creating the first of the Thayan enclaves.
|Year of Prince
|Thay sends an army of elementals to the Wizards' keach to bring the cities of Escalant, Murbant, and Thasselen to heel. This becomes known as the Salamander War.
|Year of Serpent
|Tuigan Horde invades Thay. Zulkir Szass Tam negotiates a truce with Yamun Khahan. The Tuigan leader agrees to leave Thay alone as long as he can lead his army through Thay to attack Rashemen. The Tuigans are later defeated by an alliance of Western powers in Thesk.
|Year of Banner
|Thay places enclaves in Cimbar, Phsant, Proskur, and Tsurlagol. The zulkirs ramp up the production of magic items for export.
|Year of Gauntlet
|Thay attacks Aglarond in the winter. A vast army of undead crosses the frozen Umber Marshes but fail to overcome the Watchwall.
|Year of Tankard
|Thay sets up enclaves in Westgate and Selgaunt. Tharchion Dmitra Flass weds Selfaril, High Blade of Mulmaster.
|Year of Unstrung Harp
|Mulhorand launches an invasion of Unther; the Red Wizards begin to funnel gold and magic into Unther to oppose the Mulhorandi conquest.
In Thay, the eight zulkirs run the country by consensus, built through debate that sometimes borders on open feuding. Of them all, Szass Tam has the most influence over his fellows. He is the most powerful of them, and in his long years as a lich he has entrenched himself so deeply that he could never be forced from office by anything short of a very permanent death.
The zulkirs appoint tharchions, or governors, to run the eleven tharchs. These tharchions in turn appoint a number of local bureaucrats called autharchs to oversee various locations and projects for them. Autharchs are often replaced quickly, always at the whim of their tharchion. Those who are incompetent are removed soon after being discovered. Those who are successful are promoted to tharchion as soon as there's an opening, but many of the current tharchions, not wishing to lose their jobs, engineer the downfall of such hopefuls to eliminate contenders. Only the truly ruthless and resourceful manage to work their way up to the rank of tharchion, and they're not going to go down without a fight.
The leader of a trade enclave is called a khazark. This position is supposedly equal in rank to an autharch, but in practice, it is even more respected, because only Red Wizards can hold such rank. Members of any class can become tharchions, the highest post in the land to which a Thayan can aspire who is not one of the Red Wizards.
There is supposed to be a chain of command in which the zulkirs hand orders down to the tharchions and khazarks, and they to their inferiors, and so on until commoners boss around slaves. In reality, the zulkirs order around whomever they like, whenever they like. None dare tell them they should work differently. The problem is that the zulkirs end up being the only ones who can see the big picture. Since there are eight of them, each with their personal agenda, each issues orders that are often in direct conflict with others. It is then up to subordinate Thayans to choose which master to follow and hope they can escape the wrath of the zulkir whose orders they were forced to ignore.
This inherent problem with the Thayan government has proved to be its weak point again .and again. Because there is no one in charge of everything, no one responsible for making it all work, the various factions in Thay end up spending more time battling one another than carrying out their plans for world domination. This has been a saving grace for the rest of Toril. Should a single zulkir ever manage to take full control of the nation, the rest of the world is in for a rough ride.
The latest example of Thayan disharmony is the fact that not every zulkir and tharchion is behind the "make trade, not war" doctrine the zulkirs are currently following. Tharchion Homen Odesseiron of Surthay, for instance, is planning to launch an invasion of Rashemen soon, largely at the urging of Tharchion Azhir Kren of Gauros, who is itching for a fight. Both tharchions feel they have been shut out of the prosperity brought about by the trade boom, and they are desperate to reestablish themselves as the figures of importance they were during Thay's more warlike years.
Both Odesseiron and Kren have been massing their forces for months. They plan to take Mulsantir before anyone, zulkirs and the Rashemi alike, realizes what is happening. They believe that if they succeed, there will be no complaints from Eltabbar. If they fail, they hope to be dead enough to be beyond even the necromantic grasp of Szass Tam.
From Thay's point of view, every other nation in the world is its foe. It used to be that the Thayans expressed this belief openly, making diplomatic efforts pointless. In recent years, as a part of their trade plans, they have toned down their rhetoric. The Red Wizards see themselves and their way of life as superior to all else, but they are circumspect enough not to tattoo this on their own foreheads or on those of their defeated foes - for now.
Over the centuries, the Aglarondans have been Thay's most implacable foe. From the Thayan point of view, the peninsula of Aglarond must be theirs. It's a perfect point from which to launch offensives into the other lands surrounding the Sea of Fallen Stars. If the land is not in Thayan hands, it's the primary spot from which any counteroffensive against Thay would likely begin.
Despite their best efforts, the soldiers of Thay have never been able to penetrate Aglarond. The Dragonjaw Mountains and the Yuirwood defend the country almost as thoroughly as the First Escarpment guards Thay, and the Aglarondans have made the most of these advantages. The primary example of this is the Watchwall, which keeps the Red Wizards from sending undead troops through the treacherous Umber Marshes into Aglarond.
The Red Wizards have an especially cold hatred in their rotten hearts for the Simbul. It frustrates them to no end that a woman - and a sorcerer to boot - can thwart their combined efforts. The zulkirs are elated that the Simbul agreed to the most recent truce, but they are suspicious at the same time. They hope she will soon permit them to place an enclave in Glarondar, but they know it will require far more to worm their way into Aglarond than simply asking.
To the Thayans, Mulhorand is the gateway to southern Faerûn. Also, it is the motherland of the Mulan people, whom the Red Wizards would love to unite under a single banner. However, Mulhorand, once a nation in decline, is on the rise once again.
Thay has tried to invade Mulhorand a number of times over the centuries since winning its independence. The largest problem has always been the geography of the region. Only a narrow strip of land along the Sunrise Mountains allows Thay to march an army south. The Mulhorandi always patrol this territory, so the Thayans have a hard time getting far into the country. Likewise, the Mulhorandi Empire has attacked Thay on more than one occasion, hoping to recapture their long-lost northern province and forge an unstoppable giant in eastern Faerûn.
Foiled by the stalemate in the north, Mulhorand recently turned west and invaded decrepit Unther. Like everyone else, the Red Wizards have little love for Gilgeam the Tyrant, but they also have no desire to see Mulhorand accomplish anything easily. They hope to mire the Mulhorandi army in years of anarchy and chaos in the wreckage of Unther and are funneling gold, magic, and mercenaries south to prop up the remnant of Gilgeam's domain.
Rashemen has been the subject of more Thayan invasion attempts than any other country. The land itself seems to work against the Red Wizards. The reason for so many invasions of Rashemen - and so many failures - is that the tharchions of Surthay and Gauros usually hurl their forces across Lake Mulsantir with little to no preparation. They often have some sort of "guaranteed" scheme that never works out. Some of the darkest jokes told around Rashemi inns concern foolish Red Wizards and their latest plans.
If Tharchions Azhir Kren and Homen Odesseiron have their way, though, the Rashemi will soon trade their laughter for tears. The two leaders have been secretly massing forces along the southern shore of Lake Mulsantir with an eye toward a lightning strike on the city of Mulsantir itself.