The Council of Six was the mysterious, anonymous group of heads of the most influential merchant houses of Amn that ruled over the nation during most of the 14th century DR. Their goal was to keep money flowing through their country at all costs. The group ruled from the Council House, a fortress-like Shoon structure within the scepter district in the capital city of Athkatla.
While the council was never short of power, they often sought more control over the mercantile houses of Amn to maintain peace between the often-feuding clans. They sought to maintain the balance between the profits brought in when the houses operated in autonomy and regulating any conflicts that threatened to disrupt this prosperity.
The council was guided by the tenets of maintaining a strong ruling body; keeping steady, uninterrupted trade; and continuing peace domestically and abroad. They aimed always to maintain, or improve, Amn's rather high standard of living.
Any issue that could not be decided upon by a single councilor went to the entire group for a vote. The highest-ranking seated member could break ties in cases of a divided council.
The council's members chose to remain anonymous at their founding in 1333 DR. This had the effect of shrouding the council in fear and mystery, but more importantly it protected them from assassination, bribery, and external manipulation. The maintenance of this deception was enforced by law; anyone who spoke or wrote about the identity of any councilors was punished by torture and death.
Each member was ranked in hierarchy with the most senior member possessing the most authority. Councilors were only referred to by their title rather than name, even when referring to one another, in order to maintain their anonymity. The members were selected from the six most powerful merchant houses in all of Amn. As only the councilors, and their personal advisers, knew their identities, no one house gained public renown or preferential economic treatment.
When a member of the council died, every member below them would move up a rank and a new Dahaunarch would be elected from among the wealthiest, and thus most powerful, merchant families of Amn that was yet unrepresented on the council. For the first 30 or so years after its creation, the council's membership included only 11 councilors.
Ranks and dutiesEdit
While the overall job of the council was to maintain trade within Amn, specific duties of governance were delegated to each individual member of the council, their word being law, except when speaking to higher-ranking members. The titles were:
- The senior-most, and thus most authoritative, member was responsible for monitoring the formation of monopolies within Amnian businesses, keeping track of adventurers who might disrupt commerce, and maintaining vigilance against unregistered magic-users. They also served as the voice of the council.
- This member of the council was responsible for oversight over the judiciary branch of the Amnian government and mediated disagreements between the various merchant houses.
- The tertiary office of Amn presided over the overall imports that entered into Amn and, along with the Pommarch, maintained trade routes and regulated taxes and tariffs.
- The Iltarch of Amn acted as their highest intelligence officer, who used various agents, including the Shadow Thieves, to observe Amn's interests and spy on their competition.
- The second-last member of the council had shared, tax-related responsibilities with the Namarch, and also oversaw the nation's collective exports to other lands.
- This lowest-ranking position within the council had little economic influence, but instead commanded Amn's military forces.
- See also: History of Amn
The council was formed by Meisarch Thayze Selemchant, an intelligent and charismatic member of the Cowled Wizards, in 1333 DR in direct response to the Great Trade War of Amn. Using his family connections in Athkatla, he used whatever persuasive techniques he could to convince the leaders of five other mercantile-houses and families to form a new government to, in his words, "(rid our nation of) these ridiculous conflicts that waste our time, lives, and fortunes".
To get the Amnian populace to comply with this new government, Selemchant and his allies spread a series of rumors, accompanied with an appropriate amount of coin, throughout the country. These ranged from an incoming elven invasion, either from Shilmista or the Forest of Tethir, to incoming naval attacks from the likes of pirates from the Nelanther Isles or even the navy of Waterdeep. While these were all completely baseless, the internal strife and blood feuds of the great trade war faded in intensity in the face of perceived external threats.
Finally, in an attempt to mitigate the damage to trade caused by the rivalries between families, the councilors dropped their surnames as they took control as the new government of Amn. This anonymity helped the Amnian people to believe the promises that the new ruling body would act in the best interests of all the Amnian mercantile families, rather than a select few, as it was under the previous monarchy. Ultimately, the council was all-but-fully accepted by Amn, with any resistance falling to their mercenary forces.
By 1338 DR, the Council's control over all of Amn was complete and they were domestically secure. Money was rolling into the treasury coffers through taxes and tariffs, and the council had formed a compact with the Shadow Thieves to their mutual benefit. The council was protected by their activities while the thieves guild retained their power in the capital of Athkatla. Secure in their standing at home, the council moved to increase the nation's standing along the Sword Coast, making moves both against, and aligned with, Waterdeep, as well as trade deals with Cormyr and Baldur's Gate.
When the continent of Maztica was discovered by the Golden Legion, several leading merchants from Athkatla and Murann were assassinated, while the Council of Six remained placid and refused to act. It wasn't until the seventh leader was killed that the council intervened and, in 1362 DR, restricted trade across the Trackless Sea to the continent. Only traders specifically approved, and licensed, by the council were allowed to operate there.
Soon after, the Namarch, Curkon Gheldieg, revealed a plot by the Pommarch, Wulver Xornnag, who had financed a personal fleet with the aim to dominate trade in New Amn, leave the council, and reveal the identities of its members. When overwhelming evidence was brought to the council, the Pommarch denied it, after which new suspicions arose, implicating the Namarch. The council came to a detente over the accusations, which persisted until Marpenoth of that year when the bickering, mistrust, and several attempts at murder came to a head during a meeting where the Meisarch was stabbed and poisoned after incinerating a couple of his colleagues, along with scores of guards, with fireballs and other magic.
After the dust of battle had settled, only half the council remained alive: Phaan Colwyvv, Qar Jysstev, and the new Meisarch, Erlranther Alibakkar. Before they could begin to rebuild their governing body, they were approached by the Grandmaster of the Shadow Thieves, Rhinnom Dannihyr, who revealed his knowledge of all the identities of members of the council, details regarding their financial holdings, and his role as the informant who had provided the original tip of Xornnag's treachery. For all his maneuvering, as well as his discretion, Dannihyr was granted the seat as the new Iltarch and the Shadow Thieves fell into the fold as information agents of the council.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (2000). Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-1626-5.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book Two: Amn. (TSR, Inc), p. 7. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book Two: Amn. (TSR, Inc), p. 11. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book Two: Amn. (TSR, Inc), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book Two: Amn. (TSR, Inc), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book Two: Amn. (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book Two: Amn. (TSR, Inc), p. 18. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book Two: Amn. (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.