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 Thay... then or now? (Potential Spoilers)

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Dennis Posted - 09 Nov 2010 : 11:36:40

I love the Haunted Lands trilogy. Everything in it is sans flaws from characters, to conflict, to plot. But being a fan of the Red Wizards and Thay, I can't help but want to bring the old Thay back. I know Szass Tam, after centuries of careful and patient scheming, deserves where he is now. But at the cost of destroying or 'corrupting' the realm? I'm not so sure he should remain where he is. I learned (from some who read Gauntlgrym) that after his disastrous failure in Unholy, he's building another set of the Dread Rings. Which could be sign enough that he's to remain sole ruler of Thay. Though I still hope for some significant changes to happen...

What do you think? Do you like the present Thay? Do you want to bring the zulkirs back? Or do you want to have a 'newer' Thay?

Brief Descriptions of the Choices:

Thay 1.0 Bring the zulkirs back ---those who possibly survived the War (Nevron, Lauzoril, and Lallara) and some of their predecessors (from the first Zulkirate and onwards) who vanished without trace.

Thay 2.0 I love the current Thay. Szass Tam deserves his throne. It doesn't matter that the land is blighted. It is a simple manifestation that its overlord is an undead.

Thay 2.5 Let Szass Tam rule. But the blighted state of the land should be at a minimum. His undead servants should still be strategically deployed in various cities but should mostly occupy the underground, and he must have more 'live' minions.

Thay 3.0 It's time for a new Zulkirate. Let the Red Wizards of ALL schools of magic rise and form a new set of Zulkirs to rule their realm.

Note on 'Thay 2.5': I know it kinda sounds absurd for a Lord of the Undead to have more 'live' servants than undead ones. But remember that to be Thay's ruler is not his true goal, nor is to fill it with undead denizens. His servants are just tools; so it doesn't matter if they're live or not. It's easier for him to have undead lackeys, I know, but it's not impossible for him to have far too many 'live' servants either, who are more mobile and more intelligent, (the last bit is debatable, though, for he's got a few exceptionally intelligent undead servitors, Xingax being a good example).
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Dennis Posted - 23 Dec 2013 : 16:07:34

Haha. What a picture it must be.

Fear not, though, for Szass Tam's actions lately seem to indicate he'd be overstretching his limits soon. Building Dread Rings in the Sword Coast where many major cities are well prepared to crush any potential threats? A particularly unwise move.
Demzer Posted - 23 Dec 2013 : 15:57:25
Originally posted by Dennis

Originally posted by Demzer

Luckily Thay had a lot of worshippers of Kossuth
Not in the current Thay. They were pretty much slaughtered during the War of the Zulkirs. And not other religion exists in the land except Bane's.

That's why i said "had".

1 - Greatest concentration of organized worshippers slaughtered
2 - Holy avenging crusade ... PURGE WITH FIRE!!!
3 - ???
4 - Profit

In all seriousness, i despise what they did to Thay. It was another nail in the coffin for the 4e Realms for me. So, since i took the nation in another direction in my home Realms and 5e needs a frigging miracle to get me interested in canon Thay again they might as well turn it into a theocracy of fanatic pyromaniacs, at least then i can laugh while reading about it and picturing red robed warrior priests setting the f*****g zoophiliac b*****s of Rashemen and their drunk toy boys on fire.
Dennis Posted - 23 Dec 2013 : 15:49:50
Originally posted by Markustay

The one positive thing 4e did for us in regards to Thay is that it nerfed the whole, silly 'Thaymart' concept.
Not quite. They simply chose not to feature it in the novels.
Dennis Posted - 23 Dec 2013 : 15:48:18
Originally posted by Demzer

Luckily Thay had a lot of worshippers of Kossuth
Not in the current Thay. They were pretty much slaughtered during the War of the Zulkirs. And not other religion exists in the land except Bane's.
Demzer Posted - 23 Dec 2013 : 15:08:46
There is only one way to deal with Thay post Zombie-pocalypse: PURGE WITH FIRE!

Luckily Thay had a lot of worshippers of Kossuth so i say: give us a great theocracy and keep the "new" trading Red Wizards away, they won't ever be the old ones so give us fanatic pyromaniacs instead.
Markustay Posted - 23 Dec 2013 : 15:02:10
The one positive thing 4e did for us in regards to Thay is that it nerfed the whole, silly 'Thaymart' concept. That can't be blamed on 4e, that was 3e, and 4e is helping us to get that part back to how it should have been.

Thus, a 'renewed Thay' would be very isolationist, as the factions reasserted themselves, and the infrastructure rebuilt. Dark. Mysterious. Magical. Dangerous.

Thats the Thay I remember, and thats the Thay I want.
The Arcanamach Posted - 23 Dec 2013 : 14:36:37
I would like to see Thay 'return' with its original (still surviving) Zulkirs becoming staunch allies for newer, stronger Thay. Tammy should be imprisoned within his dread rings (or whatever they were called).

Sorry for the thread resurrection but I came across this during a search and couldn't help meself.
MrHedgehog Posted - 04 Mar 2013 : 23:16:12
I like the idea of Szass Tam being a supreme Zulkir but there still being eight other under Zulkirs (so he is like the master Zulkir and now there is another Zulkir of Necromancy beholden to him as well as one for each school of magic like before...not necessarily all liches as I think was implied) And for it not to be a ruined zombie wasteland but similar to how it was before.

But I also like the idea of a Thayan diaspora with Red Wizard enclaves everywhere who want to eventually tear down Szass Tam from power. I would assume large numbers of Thayans and Red Wizards fled during the civil war and certainly after their two defeats.
Entromancer Posted - 04 Mar 2013 : 20:05:56
I'd prefer a Thay somewhere between the current version and the old version. Instead of zombie Mordor, Thay outwardly appears as it always has. However, there's rumors of ungodly experimentation in laboratories and catacombs beneath Thay. Of foul smells and inhuman shapes seen in the mists and overgrown tangles surrounding the strange buildings that the Red Wizards have shown tremendous interest in.

Those buildings are, of course, the Dread Rings (or attempts at reconstructing them after Unholy); the Red Wizards would be under the control of the Zulkirs, who ouwardly bicker and squabble but are all firmly under Tam's control. There's vast networks of tunnels under Thay, where the undead patrol and keep tabs on the whole of the realm's citizens. Any hints of dissent, uprising or conspiracy is dealt with in the night; the undead emerge and drag the traitors to the realm into the catacombs. In the Red Wizards' labs, the conspirators are added to the ranks of undead guardians.
Dennis Posted - 04 Mar 2013 : 13:11:04

Who said Lauzoril didn't control a bunch of strong echanters? He could have "charmed" (magically or naturally) those enchanters that went to join him and his fellow zulkirs in their campaign against Szass Tam. Just because it wasn't explicitly stated in the novels doesn't mean it didn't happen. Come to think of it, when they were at the Wizards Reach trying to "rebuild" their forces, knowing fully well that Szass Tam alreadly had Thay in his tight grip, those enchanters, along with the powerful lackeys of the zulkirs from other schools, could have easily deserted their superiors and pledged allegiance to Szass Tam, or start a mercenary life somewhere, or relinquish their Red Wizard-hood (ridding their red robes and tattoos and growing some hair) and start a totally new life somewhere relatively safer. But they never did. Why is that?
MrHedgehog Posted - 03 Mar 2013 : 21:37:45
I got the impression from the books he could somehow control the minds of his school (but Lauzoril somehow couldn't...?) I did not like that. The war would have made more sense if say two other schools supported him (like Divination and Illusion or something)
Dennis Posted - 03 Mar 2013 : 05:21:44

It depends on what you consider "interesting." I doubt Szaa Tam's rule will continue forever. Change is the only thing that's constant in the Realms. One day, some determined Red Wizards would try to seize Thay out of Szass Tam's grip, and would likely seek alliance from an outside realm or two (Aglarond, Rashemen, Cormyr, Waterdeep, Thesk, Calimport, etc.) to aid them in their campaign, offering staggering bounty after their success. Such future political intrigue and war would be interesting to see.
MrHedgehog Posted - 03 Mar 2013 : 03:12:10
I enjoyed the Haunted Land novels. They were very entertaining and fun...but I don't like the impact they had on Thay and found a lot of what happened unrealistic to the point of absurdity. I think Thay was more interesting before. What do you do in an undead ravaged land with a tyrant who can apparently control everything? It isn't interesting.
The Masked Mage Posted - 03 Mar 2013 : 00:36:54
Originally posted by Dennis

I liked that novel too, save the silly Harpers. I would have liked it as well if Maligor had won, though not to the point that he'd slay Szass Tam.

Yeah, I meant to that extent. I think the post Spellbound changes in Thay revolving around Tam are awful, like "Hey I know, lets totally change who and what the Red Wizards and Thay are! Genius idea." "Yeah, they're too mean, lets have them sell stuff instead." "Oooh, and I like undead so lets have more of those too!"
Markustay Posted - 02 Mar 2013 : 18:49:05
Well, thats why I am trying to make the 'Thaymart stores' more sinister in nature, something along the lines of a front for a Thayan black market (I could even call it the 'Red Market').

Basically, someone goes to an enclave to do business with Thay, but then while there can ask (discreetly) about 'other services' (drugs, slaves, contraband magic, etc). There'd be what they are openly known for (as trade embassies), and also what underworld types understand them to really be (information-gathering, sowing unrest, checkpoints for Thayan agents, etc). Kinda like the Red Wizard equivalent of a Harper safehouse, combined with regular embassy features.

They'd also make themselves very useful to everyone, being information-brokers (and thus coming into direct conflict with Kraken Society, amongst others).
Dennis Posted - 02 Mar 2013 : 14:40:40

I liked that novel too, save the silly Harpers. I would have liked it as well if Maligor had won, though not to the point that he'd slay Szass Tam.
The Masked Mage Posted - 02 Mar 2013 : 01:30:58
my only bit to add to this is: I really liked the old Red Magic book. What they did with Tamm after that made me wish Maligor had won.
sleyvas Posted - 01 Mar 2013 : 21:37:52
that's pretty much how I've always envisioned the enclaves. Corruption run rampant. They bring in drugs and distribute them. They may provide intelligent magic items that seek to control their owner. They may allow certain individuals to use their portals, of course, noting where the person went... and of course, requiring favors in return. However, they also use them to magically transport their surplus produce, and they can do it efficiently since they're widespread.
Dennis Posted - 01 Mar 2013 : 16:02:31

Of course I don't mind, MT.

As for the enclaves, I honestly don't give them that much thought. To me, they're nothing more than (as you and other scribes described quite well) mere magical convenience stores.
Markustay Posted - 01 Mar 2013 : 13:51:22
I was going to create a new 'fixing Thay' thread, but this one is recent enough and related enough, and so long as Dennis doesn't mind, I'd like to continue the discussion.

In my current campaign, my Thay is both quite a bit different then published Thay, and yet at its heart, it is still Thay (circa 1372 or so). What I picture is the Thayans still setting up their enclaves, but they are more like embassies, mostly based on their trade (just a century or so ago, they dominated the Inner Sea with their galleys, but newer ship-types introduced from the Swordcoast has made most of their navy obsolete, and other countries are now on the rise). So NO Thaymart... at least not on the surface.

The idea is that their enclaves officially are little more then embassies, which handle their 'trade relations' with other nations. What they are really doing is bribing local officials, and slowly taking over the local political landscape, with the idea of controlling other nations in this manner, but surreptitiously (the 'power behind the throne' situation). This actually isn't all that different then how they were originally presented to us in FR. I like the enclaves as a concept, but I don't like they way they spun them. Maybe they weren't going for that level of silliness - a chain of 'magical convenience stores' - but thats how it turned out.

On the other hand, because the enclaves DO have an agenda, part of that should be controlling the Black Market in any area they have an enclave, and to that end they would be smuggling-in illicit magical paraphernalia, which they would be willing to sell to certain 'agreeable' folks. They might even be willing to gift certain items to some folk in exchange for 'favors'. This is part of their plan - not only do they get the cooperation of local politicians, underworld types, and police through these items, but they also place certain spells on the items themselves, to help 'track' activities and keep tabs on everyone.

In that way, the enclaves are doing something along the same lines as it is in published material, but it gives the whole thing a much more sinister, more clandestine spin.
Dennis Posted - 02 Oct 2012 : 06:18:30

I did NOT say he is perfect or infallible. If he were, he would have successfully cast the Ritual of Unmaking. Nevertheless, he is no fool. His madness, either as one of the side effects of the process of lichdom, or simply the result of existing for centuries, is also a factor that makes him dream BIG, insanely big.
MrHedgehog Posted - 02 Oct 2012 : 05:23:35
Szass Tam isn't a perfect Mary Sue character. None of the villains in the realms are infallible, or else they would not have been created. They exist for their plots to be foiled = P

His defeating all the other Zulkirs seemed really lame and deux ex machina to me. "I can control all my minion's minds with magic better than the entire school of enchantment la la la". His rise to power would have made more sense as it was set out in Spellbound with some of the Zulkirs supporting him... him doing it all alone was a stupid idea.
Dennis Posted - 01 Oct 2012 : 22:13:35
Originally posted by MrHedgehog

I don't think Szass Tam's actions are left open to speculation in the Neverwinter book thingy. It says what he is doing and why, its not mysterious.
And how often had Szass Tam surprised people. He may not be the greatest manipulator/mastermind/trickster in the Realms, but he certainly is one.

Of course, you may say this is just me trying to see sense in his actions in Neverwinter. Otherwise, it would appear that RAS and his editors deliberately or ignorantly threw previous lore (and by that, I mean RLB's books); or that they want to show how great a fool Szass Tam is.
sleyvas Posted - 01 Oct 2012 : 18:53:21
Originally posted by Markustay

I was thinking more along the lines of Szass Tam 'withdrawing' from the world. He pretty-much just ignores everbody unless they bother him (so if you enter the highest plateau, you are probably dead meat).

So the entrenched Thayans would be trying to bring the 'ruined' kingdom back to some semblance of what it was. They would have their hands full just taking on Tam's old minions and all those undead (and perhaps if they ever proved too successful, then maybe Tam would step-in).

I was thinking that this could even work well for their proposed 'support for all eras' plan. What if the Szas Tam (on Thaymount) represented the 4e version of Thay. Then the Tharchions within The country could represent the 1e Thay. The guys in Unther would be the expansionist 2e Red Wizards, and the ones in Altumbel could be the 'Thaymart forever' 3e bunch.

And yeah, each group (aside from Tam himself) would elect their own Zulkirs. Szass Tam might even be amused by all of this (until it no longer amused him, in which case he'd just sweep them all aside). Or, conversely, maybe Tam is busy elsewhere, and everyone is just afraid of his legacy (so no one goes up to Thaymount... which is just one massive dungeon at this point). What folks perceive as the "mysterious actions of Szass Tam" could really just be some sporadic, random things done by fiends or powerful undead he left behind.

Damn, we think alike, I was just saying one group could be like the researchers and the other the Imperialists, and I was thinking the same rough areas. I can see the researchers liking Altumbel and its islands for its privacy (and possibly aiding pirates in return for their general protection.... that might need some working out). For instance, the researchers might supply the pirates with smokepowders for on ship cannons or the liquid that is used to power bombards. They may supply greek fire for use with catapults and greek fire throwers. They could also supply ship's mages periodically as well.
sleyvas Posted - 01 Oct 2012 : 18:43:37
Originally posted by Markustay

Worse... put Justin Beiber in the next Twilight movie.

If they were to focus on various factions vying for control of a new Thay (which I personally think would be very interesting), why not three factions? You could have "Tammy on The Mount", a more traditional group of Red Wizards trying to return Thay to its old ways (and setup), and a group outside of Thay - say in Altumbel, or Unther - that is working toward bringing their own 'Thaymart' brand (3e) of Thay back to their homeland?

Or even more intricate - have at least two outsider-factions both working toward the goal of creating a 'new Thay', but unwilling to cooperate with each other... although they both realize they may eventually have to in order to remove Szass Tam and the entrenched Red Wizards from Thay (which would mean the Altumbel and Unther factions would have to come to a begrudging compromise, which could lead to the 'old school' faction already in Thay having to deal with Tam himself, and also have to make compromises).

I just think if we are going to go the 'civil ware' route, it might be fun to create several different groups; more gaming/story opportunities there, me thinks.

You're getting almost to the right place with the two outsider factions. Now throw in the idea that these two groups may have grown up from the existing Thayan parties (the Imperialists and the Researchers). Those doing the enclaves to sell cheap items might have more "researcher" ties, whereas the idea I had with the "United Tharchs of the Shaar" could definitely be Imperialists.

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