Posted - 14 Feb 2020 : 17:43:55
| Master Krashos,
You would be correct regarding the terms of the "deal." While the Zhentarim had holdings west of the Thunderpeaks prior to the deal, i.e. Llorkh, Darkhold, they did pre-date the agreement.
Though, while the letter of the law appears to have been maintained, the strategic advance and taking of key locations through conquest and peace agreements at the end of those conquests all but seals the deal for the doom of those areas, and a prevention of westward expansion.
When the Zhentarim attacked Myth Drannor and Shadowdale in 1374, the peace accord gave the Zhentarim unfettered access down the Moon Ride to Tilver's Gap at the Thunder Peaks. We only need to see how the limited action engagements between China and India in Kashmir is playing out to see why having influence over Tilver's Gap is of massive strategic importance.
Additionally, westward expansion was never defined. Pushing influence, creating trade deals from existing locations such as Darkhold in the west, and places near Tilverton but east of Tilver's Gap would secure a strong connection of trade and influence in an area that is already seemingly inbounds.
Westgate is still very much inbounds, and a southern border city for the Zhentarim with of course great influence in the western regions of the Sea of Fallen Stars, with close proximity to Sembia, Cormyr, and the major trade route through Ilipur, etc.
Sure, they are sticking the letter of the law, but is that going to matter when they connect the dots in a mega powerful way over the next 30 years? Not really.
That's the same reason we see real world examples of nation states getting involved in the prevention of expansion through poor areas/nations that are easy to influence with very little. The hungry don't care who shows up with food, clothes, and opportunity as long as they get them. In the end, the Zhents are in a really great place with that deal. They just connect everything up, and move forward with their plans. They've already cowed the Elves of Cormanthor, destroyed the Old Mage's tower, and were given Hillsfar.
The other thing is, what is there to the agreement? There is no compulsory magics used such as Geas, etc. The Zhentarim are just too powerful, especially with Fzoul being the new Exarch for Bane.
While Khelben secured that "deal", the Zhentarim are getting stuff done it would appear.
Originally posted by George Krashos
I'll just point out that Khelben's "deal" with Fzoul safeguards all lands west of the Thunder Peaks (i.e. all of the Heartlands, Sword Coast and Sword Coast North) from Zhentarim expansion for nearly thirty years. Let me repeat that - thirty YEARS.
-- George Krashos