|Ruler||Szass Tam, High Regent of Thay|
Cyric, Gargauth, Kelemvor,
Kossuth, Loviatar, Malar,
Shar, Talona, Umberlee
|Imports||Iron, magic items, monsters, |
|Exports||Artwork, fruit, grains, jewelry, |
magic items, sculptures, timber
The country of Thay, once a large portion of the Mulhorandi Empire, extends from the borders of Thesk and Aglarond in the west to the Sunrise Mountains in the east. It stretches nearly 500 miles from north to south and 450 miles from east to west. Rashemen is directly to the north, across Lake Mulsantir, while the Alamber Sea and Mulhorand form Thay’s southern edge.
Most of Thay consists of a great plateau almost 350 miles across. These arid tablelands are about 2,000 feet above sea level at the outer edges and slope up to an elevation of about 4,000 feet in the vicinity of Lake Thaylambar and the foothills of the Sunrise Mountains. The plateau’s southern, western, and northern borders are a band of broken cliffs and rugged canyons known as the First Escarpment. While few of these cliffs are more than a couple of hundred feet in height, the Escarpment rises on a dozen or so such precipices in the space of ten or fifteen miles, like the tiers of a wedding cake. A small party on foot can pick their way up the Escarpment over a day or two of difficult paths and short scrambles, but an army of any size is limited to a small number of passes and roads, which the Thayans guard well.
Atop the Plateau of Thay, the land consists of broad, rolling vistas broken by low mesas and chains of jagged rocks. Within its bounds rises the Ruthammar Plateau, a second, smaller plateau roughly 150 miles in diameter, which is more often referred to as the Thaymount (its most prominent feature) or High Thay. The Second Escarpment, a chain of cliffs and gorges even more forbidding than the First Escarpment, bounds High Thay. It averages almost 6,000 feet in elevation and is noticeably colder and more arid than the tablelands below.
At the center of High Thay stand the volcanic peaks of the Thaymount, in actuality a hundred-mile chain of fang-like ridges and smoldering cinder cones whose highest point is more than 17,000 feet high. In the youth of the world, basalt flows from these now-slumbering giants formed the mighty plateaus of Thay. While a number of people live in High Thay, few settlements stand close to the peaks of the Thaymount—minor eruptions are common, creating ash falls and clouds of sulfurous fumes that drift northeast, rendering a large area of the plateau virtually uninhabitable.
At the eastern edge of the country, amid the foothills of the Sunrise Mountains, rises a third series of cliffs—the Surague Escarpment. This forms a shelf atop the First Escarpment, and like the plateau of High Thay, averages about 6,000 feet in elevation. Numerous streams spill down from the heights of the Sunrise Mountains, creating a tangled maze of gorges and canyon lands in this corner of the country.
Just east of High Thay, near the eastern foot of the Second Escarpment, lies Lake Thaylambar. Fed by the River Surag, born of the snow melts of the Sunrise Mountains, this deep, cold body of water is nearly eighty miles across. Its outlet is the River Thay, which flows north to Lake Mulsantir near the Surmarsh. The Sunrise Mountains also give rise to two other great rivers—the River Thazarim in the south and the Gauros in the north. The soot-covered glaciers of the Thaymount feed two more great rivers—the River Umber, which flows west to Aglarond and the Sea of Dlurg, and the River Lapendrar, with flows southwest through the Priador to meet the Wizards’ Reach at Escalant.
Thay is a naturally warm, dry land whose lofty elevation prevents the moisture-laden winds from the Sea of Fallen Stars from bringing much precipitation to the interior. Never ones to be satisfied with their lot, the Red Wizards have created a network of spells that maintains pleasant weather conditions all year round. This plays havoc with the weather in Thesk, but the Thayans do not concern themselves with the difficulties of their neighbors. The days are warm but not unpleasantly so. The plains are regularly soaked with rains, but only in the dead of night. Just about every day in Thay is a fine one, in stark contrast to the miserable lives most people lead here. The weather spells ensure fine growing conditions for vast croplands, worked by the uncounted thousands of slaves upon whom the Thayan economy depends.
Major Geographic Features
Thay is blessed with many special natural features, from the glaciers and volcanoes of the Thaymount to the beaches of Bezantur. Those traveling along one of the few main roads are treated to breathtaking views as they mount first one escarpment and then another. The distant snow-covered peaks of the Thaymount seem to watch over it all like sleeping kings, a landmark visible from almost any spot in the country.
Most travelers enter Thay through one of five major routes. In the north, those following the Golden Way come first to the port city of Surthay on the southern shore of Lake Mulsantir. Traditionally, travelers ride or walk the Long Portage from Surthay up to the top of the Plateau of Thay. The River Thay is one of the great highways of the land, and slave-pulled barges ferry goods and passengers from the First Escarpment to Lake Thaylambar. Once on the lake, it’s an easy voyage to Eltabbar, the capital city, located on the southwestern shore.
In the southeast, travelers forge their way up the River Thazarim to the First Escarpment. An old Mulhorandi road leads through the gorge of the Thazarim and meets a track bound for Pyarados. From there, one can either take the path along the Sunrise Mountains to Lake Thaylambar, or go by the well-maintained Eastern Way to Tyraturos, then north along the High Road to Eltabbar. Few people enter Thay by this route, as the tharch of Thazalhar is a desolate and forbidding land, plagued by restless undead and hungry monsters from the mountains.
Most people bound for Thay put in at the great port of Bezantur, one of the largest cities along the Sea of Fallen Stars. The High Road leads straight north through Tyraturos to Eltabbar. The Thayans expect visitors to enter by this route, so inns and taverns catering to foreigners are common along the High Road—as are spies and agents of the Red Wizards, who keep a close eye on folk of other lands.
In the past, armies seeking to invade Thay have come by way of the River Lapendrar. The Lapendrar itself is not navigable past the First Escarpment, as a waterfall tumbles over the edge of the Plateau of Thay, preventing passage. However, the gorge of the River of Sorrows is one of the broadest and most gentle ascents of the First Escarpment, at least for travelers on foot. When Halacar of Aglarond led his ill-advised expedition into Thay a century ago, this was the route he chose. Lastly, some prefer to sail up the River Umber to Nethjet, located on the eastern side of Lake Umber. From here, one can follow the Eastern Way until it meets up with the High Road at Tyraturos, then head north to Eltabbar. Monsters haunting the passage through the Dragonjaw Mountains make this route somewhat dangerous, and the Nethjet end of the Eastern Way is poorly maintained, a magnet for gnoll brigands and similar undesirables. Folk from northerly lands along the Inner Sea find this a faster but more dangerous route than the long walk up the Golden Way to Mulsantir and Surthay.
In addition to the natural defenses of Thay, a number of small citadels sprinkle the slopes of both the First and Second Escarpments. These well-built stone structures ostensibly keep out enemies, but in truth, they are home to patrols of humans and gnolls who spend more of their time keeping Thayan slaves in. Most roads on the Plateau itself (especially the Eastern Way and the High Road) are impeccably maintained. Raised a few feet above the surrounding land, they are covered with an alchemical tarmac for durability and ease of use. Work crews constantly repair the roads, keeping them in near-perfect shape. Small fortresses known as tax stations line the roads and appear at all other points of entry into Thay.
The nation relies heavily on slavery, a practice heavily frowned upon by nations throughout the north and northwestern Faerûn. In Thay itself the Zulkirs and other prominent Red Wizards grow rich beyond imagination from this sinister trade. From their strongholds and estates, they use this wealth to constantly scheme and plot the mercantile and military domination of their neighbor nations.
Slavery is a common branch of trade in Thay. Slave markets are restocked with war prisoners, conquered Rashemi or people that are sold into slavery. While folk of Mulan descent remove all body hair (at least on the head) and Rashemi freemen at least clip their hair short, slaves are not allowed to cut their hair at all. They can be easily distinguished by the heavy and filthy mass of hair they wear.
Tharchions, civil governors of the realm, rule over the various tharchs, or regions of Thay.
These are the eleven regions of Thay, each ruled by a seperate tharchion.
- Alaor - ruled by Tharchion Thessaloni Canos
- Delhumide- ruled by Tharchion Invarri Metron
- Eltabbar - ruled by Tharchion Dmitra Flass, also made Zulkir of Illusion somewhere between 1375 DR and 1385 DR
- Gauros - ruled by Tharchion Azhir Kren
- Lapendrar - tharchion's position vacant since Hezass Nymar died in 1385 DR affected by the Spellplague
- Priador - tharchion's position vacant since Aznar Thrul was murdered in 1375 DR
- Pyarados - ruled by Tharchion Nymia Focar
- Surthay - ruled by Tharchion Homen Odesseiron
- Thaymount - ruled by Tharchion Pyras Autorian
- Thazalhar - tharchion's position vacant since Milsantos Daramos died in 1382 DR of old age.
- Tyraturos - ruled by Tharchion Dimon, also priest of Bane
Thayans are known for a relative irreverence toward the gods; whereas much of Faerun is devout, with many clerics who put their gods first, Thay has many people for whom the gods are definitely second, even third. That's not to say that Thayans are stupid or suicidal. Since the gods are very real, very powerful, and very harsh to atheists, Thayans have patron deities like most other inhabitants of Toril. They are more likely to weigh the costs and benefits of patronage in a calculating fashion, choosing gods that fall in line with their plans and offer interesting afterlives. They raise churches and make donations, but as much for personal glory as glorification of the gods. Services are attended sporadically, lip service paid in prayers. Holy days offer opportunities to display wealth and power, so why not celebrate? The general attitude in Thay is this: the gods are bigger than you, so don't tweak their noses.
A strange kind of religious freedom reigns in Thay, not because individual choices are respected but because Thayans know their history. The ancient Imaskari empire fell because they kept slaves from communing with their gods, and the Thayans are not about to make the same sort of mistake. Thus, people are not magically influenced to change alignment or forced to choose particular patron deities, even if powerful masters don't approve. Slaves are not forbidden the worship of their deities but their worship is regulated. Slaves cannot raise temples or gather in groups larger than 10, but they are allowed shrines and private prayer. They are not given time off for individual holy days but once their chores are done, they can choose to spend time in worship. Four of the major seasonal festivals in Faerun (Greengrass, Midsummer, Highharvestide, and the Feast of the Moon) are granted as rest days for all slaves, despite the grumblings this causes in the upper classes.
It must be noted that Thay is a place of religious turmoil for slaves, in that their harsh treatment can cause them to reconsider the gods they serve. While some slaves never question their deity's power and some even experience a renewed faith, many slaves find their gods' promises to be hollow. What does Chauntea's bounty matter when the masters won't allow any more than the barest ration? Light and love wither for the thousands of slaves doing the hardest, dirtiest labor in Thay, far away from any hope of rescue. Some slaves turn to deities of bitterness like Beshaba and Shar; others turn to Loviatar and torment other slaves. In select areas, citizens worship Malar and slaves sometimes follow in the hopes of gaining favor. Malar's clergy offer one of few ways for slaves to earn their freedom.
Bezantur has the greatest amount of religious diversity of any place in Thay because it caters to citizens, slaves, and visitors to the port. In Bezantur, major evil temples are an open secret, barely hidden to avoid scaring foreigners. The various regions of Thay have different deities in fashion, and the interior of the country openly worships evil deities that are underground elsewhere. Eltabbar is known as the religious heart of Thay, with some of the grandest temples in the country. Eltabbar is also the closest major city to the symbol of Kossuth's worship in the country - the volcanoes of the Thaymount. Kossuth is generally popular throughout Thay, as are Bane, Shar, and Waukeen. The only gods whose worship is suppressed are the Mulhorandi pantheon, Mystra, and Velsharoon, mainly for historical reasons. Although she is the goddess of magic, Thayans have no love for the current holder of Mystra's portfolio and would rather worship Azuth, if they must choose a "god of magic" at all; at least he's wielded magic for a long time.
Below is the religious calendar of Thay. The worship of many deities is associated with Thayan citizens, while good deities are associated with the slave population. Major holidays are the only times that some Thayans go to church and great displays of power and wealth are not unknown. Slave uprisings sometimes happen on or near holy days, as well. Day / Dates Details Deity Worshippers Midsummer Revels of destruction and rudeness Beshaba Thayans Shieldmeet Revels of destruction and rudeness Beshaba Thayans Each Midwinter night Unveiling, sacrifices Gargauth Thayans Eve of the Feast of the Moon Personal sacrifices made by clerics as they renew their contracts Gargauth Thayans Twelve days after Greengrass Called Ippensheir, time of revelry and showing inventions Gond Any 11 Eleint Penultimate Thunder, feasts Hoar Slaves 11Marpenoth Impending Doom, daylong ceremonies with drums, oaths, purification Hoar Slaves Last night of the year Night of Another Year, reading of the names of the dead from the year, then rest Jergal Thayans Shieldmeet Clerics recount deeds of the dead Kelemvor Slaves Feast of the Moon Clerics recount deeds of the dead Kelemvor Slaves Midsummer morn Clerics perform Song of Dawn Lathander Slaves Morns of vernal and autumn equinoxes Clerics perform Song of Dawn Lathander Slaves Highharvestide Hunt before, invite even non-worshippers to feast, pledge to provide for the needy in winter Malar Thayans High Hunt each season Hunt a humanoid or slave who can win freedom by surviving a day and night Malar Thayans 15 Marpenoth Ascension of current Mystra Mystra Slaves Midsummer Day of new pacts Oghma Thayans Shieldmeet Day of new pacts Oghma Thayans Each Midwinter day Retreat, clergy assemble to recount campaigns Red Knight Thayans 1 Tarsakh Queen's Gambit, feasting and games Red Knight Thayans 25 Nightal A celebration of dark side of wealth and pleasure Samora Thayans Shieldmeet Conjuring of the Second Moon, chant that summons female planetars to serve clergy for a night Selune Slaves Mystery of the Night Once a year, each cleric fly into air to commune with Selune Selune Slaves Festival of the Moon Rising of the Dark, service over a live sacrifice Shar Thayans 15 Tarsakh Windride, clerics assume gaseous form or wind walk, set down in someplace new Shaundakul Slaves Greengrass Frolicking Sune Slaves Midsummer Frolicking Sune Slaves Grand Revel Once a month, gathering for dancing, music, poetry Sune Slaves Every 12 days Festivals to offer prayers, drums, chants Talona Thayans Fast of the Moon Honoring the dead Tempus Thayans Once a tenday Must shed blood Tempus Thayans 15 Hammer Cold Counting Comfort, honors accounting Waukeen Thayans 20 Aluturiak Great Weave, honors textiles Waukeen Thayans 30 Ches High Coin, honors wealth Waukeen Thayans 10 Tarsakh Spheres, honors generosity Waukeen Thayans 12 Mirtul Sammardach, honors benefactors Waukeen Thayans 21 Kythorn Brightbuckle, honors finery Waukeen Thayans 3-5 Flamerule Sornyn, honors deal-making Waukeen Thayans 17 Eleasis Huldark, honors bounty Waukeen Thayans 7 Eleint Spryndalstar, honors magic Waukeen Thayans 1 Marpenoth Marthoon, honors guards Waukeen Thayans 10 Uktar Tehennteahan, honors crafts Waukeen Thayans 25 Nightal Orbar, "a solemn remembrance" of the dark side of wealth Waukeen Thayans
Thay has a strict and nuanced hierarchy of castes, with nobles at the highest levels of influence. The vast majority of Red Wizards and higher level Thayan clerics come from noble backgrounds, and most of Thay's governors and enclave leaders do, as well. Thayan nobles of Mulan blood are officially allowed to breed with other Mulan, outsiders, and some other races of interest (such as the Yuan-ti). As Thayan enclaves have become fixtures in far-away cities, a number of Thayans have arranged sanctioned marriages with local nobles. With each new marriage, and sometimes with individual births, nobles pledge their children to one house.
Thayan noble houses that do not have a main family business or pursuit tend to splinter, as different family members try to steer the house in too many directions. Some of the current houses split off from each other, such as the vicious battles that split House Malaerach into House Malaergost and House Onolath. While some noble houses are in direct competition due to their interests, other houses compete simply to be the most prestigious. Family lands are highly prized, as as notable magical items. Many commoners and slaves are attached to noble estates and feud with the servants of rival houses.
Thay's oldest families are inevitably tied to the nobles of Mulhorhand, although some changed their names when Thay broke free from the god-kings. A few point to their family ties in Unther, Murghom, and Semphar. Every now and again, someone tries to trace their lineage all the way back to the Great Artificers of Imaskar, but such attempts are always hotly debated.
Below are the 90 current noble houses of Thay and their major area(s) of interest, as of the 1375 Census in Eltabbar.
Trade & Interests Zolphas Alchemical items Csittanko Antiques (nonmagical) Mediocros Arcane magic (abjuration) Odesseiron Arcane magic (conjuration) Savrian Arcane magic (divination) Ashmeddai Arcane magic (enchantment) Thrul Arcane magic (evocation) Hunosel Arcane magic (illusion) Tam Arcane magic (necromancy) Rhym Arcane magic (transmutation) Aporos Architecture (homes) Hashtur Architecture (public) Dagrun Armor (heavy) Besklen Armor (light) Halphas Armor (medium) Gios Art Xemelenos Bookbinding & restoration (spellbooks, scrolls, etc.) Celski Calligraphy & tattoos Rothos Calligraphy & tattoos Darnak Caravan trade Wenz Cooking, exotic foods, beer brewing Volkos Diplomacy Zalios Drugs Gallegos Entertainment & fashion Focar Exploration Thullos Exploration Kos Fishing Vhol Fishing Eremal Foodstuffs (fruit) Nirresh Foodstuffs (fruit) Dervich Foodstuffs (grains) Lavartya Foodstuffs (grains) Sashenka Fur trade Dal Gladitorial games Delizan Heraldry & history Gordesh Horse breeding & training Lectos Hunting & procurement (exotic beasts) Mishkov Hunting & procurement (exotic beasts) Kallos Illicit goods Yaras Jewelry (gems) Zandranto Jewelry (gems) Givlich Jewelry (gold, silver, etc.) Lasko Jewelry (gold, silver, etc.) Thal Landowning Koraz Magecraft (exotic components) Quantoul Magecraft (magical experimentation) Yonago Magecraft (research) Belos Magical arms & armor Nath Magical arms & armor Imbros Magical rings Doruzed Magical rods Vizemod Magical staffs Qarto Mercenary fighting Rhaenys Mercenary fighting Indolf Mining Shanived Mining Govannon Moneychanging Nishka Moneylending Sun Musical instruments Ilmeth Perfumes Malaergost Poisonmaking Onolath Poisonmaking Agneh Politics and leadership Autorian Politics and leadership Flass Politics and leadership Nymar Politics and leadership Szordrin Politics and leadership Lloros Potion brewing Canos Shipping, cartography, slave transport Kul Shipping, cartography, slave transport Metron Slave acquisition & training (alcohol brewing) Xeraston Slave acquisition & training (forging) Zurn Slave acquisition (enclaves) Ankara Slave acquisition (piracy) Dasselath Slave acquisition (planar) Phan Slave market Tanzirk Slave market Baleth Slave training (art) Valgon Slave training (courtesan) & acquisition Eshunir Slave training (high house) Svarog Slave training (leatherworking) Parnath Slave training (pottery) Weslir Slave training (weaving) Kren Timber Elgroth Timber Omraj Trapmaking (magical & otherwise) Vantur Weapons Embian Winemaking Gozal Winemaking Lyundra Wondrous items
Narfelli Binders: So the Narfelli Binders may or may not be around in modern Thay. I dont think they exist in any strength in modern Thay, none of the reigning Zulkirs look to have any ties to them. However they were probably supporters of the Imperialist faction and either they allied with Szass Tam or he stole their secrets (how else would he know about Eltab and how to bind him). Either way they will be very closely tied to Eltab and now that he is free they will probably start forming cults across Thay looking to bring down Szass Tam.
Raumathari Battlemages: This faction looks to be alive and well in modern Thay with one of its members being Aznar Thrul the Zulker of Evocation. Aznar ended the Salamander War by summoning an avatar of Kossuth to drive the elemental forces from the Wizard's Reach. This faction is now one of the most powerful in Thay and were probably supporters of the Imperialist group and now strongly anti Szass Tam. It would make sense for them to be allied with the Diviners which include the church of Kossuth among their number.
The Diviners: This factions includes the churches of the strongest churches in Thay; particularly Kossuth and Bane. They seek to mould Thay into a theocracy/magocracy, with an equal number of priests and wizards as Zulkirs. The diviners were previously a minor presence and part of the Researchers, but their recent actions during the Salamander War have earned them a measure of respect for power and elevated the church of Kossuth to a prime status in Thay. The return of Bane has also reinvigourated his church and the two combined have resulted in a much stronger presence for the Diviners in Thay. As yet this faction are undecided about Szass Tam, their support will depend upon his actions towards the various churchers in Thay.
The Order of the Black Flame: Originally an Untheric order that was destroyed centuries before the creation of Thay. The order was revived by the Covenant after 976 DR when they began to work subtly against Thay from the inside. Using this false secret society the covenant used the pretext of discovering ancient magical repositories from the original order of the black flame, and using these discoveries helped Thay develop much of it's fire based magic in use today. In doing so they turned the developing nation of Thay away from the Narfelli Binders faction and the use of gates and summoning magic which had interfered with the Covenant's plans so much in the Savage Frontier. At the same time the creation of this order polarised Thay's society into two groups by upsetting the balance of power, a status quo that has existed pretty much to the present day. At first the groups were Narfell or Raumathar (the order of the black flame supported Raumathar) then after the formation of Thay and the Zulkirate it was Imperialist or Researcher. Today it is Szass Tam or anti Szass Tam.
Thayd's Order: A relatively minor order that has kept itself a secret from most of Thay, even the other factions are unaware of it's existence and it survives largely as a sub faction of every existing faction. This order's sponsor is none other than the vestige of the spiritual father of Thay. His followers seek to keep the two factions balanced and prevent any one group of Thayans from becoming dominant. Thayd's reasons for this are unknown but his followers obey unswervingly. This order was actually created by Elminster himself who in disguise instructed the first members of the Order how to bind and draw power from their forebear. Elminster's reasons for doing so are likewise unknown but likely revolve around ensuring that Thay never becomes united and therefore strong enough to threaten the rest of Faerun.
The Malaugrym: A new and rising faction. This group appeared around the time of the Harpstar Wars as the Malaugrym sought to infiltrate other power groups in Faerun to combat the Harpers and Khelben and Elminster. Their representative on the Zulkirate is Mythrell'aa, and true to most Malaugrym she is mysterious and elusive and her thoughts and motivations are unknown to the others.
The Devoted of Mystra: A secret faction in Thay because the worship of Mystra is outlawed; only the Red Wizards should have access to magic. Ironically the creator of Thay; Ythazz Buvarr, like Thay'd before him, was a theurgist and manipulated divine and arcane magic with equal skill. Ythazz was a devout worshipper of Mystra and it was his hope to create a magocracy in the south free of the tyranny of the old empires. He achieved his aim by allying with magist orders such as the Narfelli Binders and Raumathari Battlemages and together they defeated the armies of the god kings and created a nation were magic was king. Unfortunately for Ythazz, his dream quickly began to crumble as the corruption caused by power acquired through magic began to destabilise Thay. Although a powerful lich and necromancer/priest of Mystra, Ythazz could not prevent the factions from rallying against him and ousting him from his position of power. Today the Devoted of Mystra still exists in secret with one major player at it's helm. Szass Tam, would-be king of Thay is working towards uniting Thay once again and making magic king, not politics. With a nation of powerful spellcasters at his behest Thay will work the greatest magics in modern Faerun.
Thayan vessels are named using magic-related themes such as spells, schools of magic or wizards, such as Alkammar, Black Tentacle, Enchanter or Lightning Bolt.
Related prestige classes
- Burning Braziers
- Black Flame Zealots
- Brothers and Sisters of the Pure Flame
- Order of the Salamander
- Red Wizard
- Thayan Knight
- Thayan Slaver
- Thayan Gladiator
- Main article: History of Thay
Ythazz had been part of the original uprising in Mulhorand in -1087 DR by the Theurgist Adept Thayd (put to death -1081). The nation of Thay came about when a sect, calling itself the Red Wizards, declared its freedom from the god kings of Mulhorand. The sect's center of strength was in the northern provinces where the natives did not have the inbred reverence for the god-kings. After razing the city of Delhumide they declared themselves the free nation of Thay in 922 DR. Since then Mulhorand has had to defend themselves, quite successfully, against two invasions from Thay.
Thayans believe that the gods send luck to the strong and resolute, not to the gentle and compassionate.