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The Red Wizards, formerly known as the Red Wizards of Thay before the War of the Zulkirs, were the notorious and nefarious magocratic ruling class of the inhospitable but well-inhabited country of Thay.[6] Historically they owed their power to being cruel slavers,[14][15] demonologists,[16][17] and arcane experimenters,[18] before most of their numbers wholly dedicated themselves into creating a nation of undeath.[19]

OrganizationEdit

For centuries, the leaders of the Red Wizards and in fact all of Thay was the Council of Zulkirs.[20] The ruling body comprised eight of the most powerful Red Wizards, each of whom represented one of the schools of magic.[3] Each of the zulkirs and their subordinates fomented intense rivalries with one another, leading to great feuds and near-crippling internal strife.[12]

In the years following the War of the Zulkirs, the Red Wizards of Thay were led by the feared lich and supreme regent, Szass Tam.[19][21][22]

Since Szass Tam's takeover, the exiled Red Wizards have transformed enormously, becoming a loosely organized chain of merchant enclaves who specialized in procuring magical items.[22]

FactionsEdit

The Red Wizards has historically been wrought with in-fighting and inner turmoil. As the stakes rose over the years, these conflicts became more dramatic and impactful to their operations.[23][24]

Early Years

In the years before the mid–14th century DR, the Red Wizards divided themselves into two separate ideological groups. The influential Imperialists sought to conquer Faerûn, by military might, subterfuge, or any other means necessary.[1] The Researchers took a more isolationist stance, preferring to focus on arcane research within the safety of the Thayan Plateau.[25]

Thayan Civil War

After Szass Tam seized power from the Council of Zulkirs, the Red Wizards underwent a more severe divide. Both the zulkirs and the Red Wizards loyal to their respective schools were forced to choose a faction in the growing conflict: either remain with those loyal to their Thayan way of life, or side with Szass Tam and his ever-expanding cabal of liches, vampires, and other undead spellcasters.

15th Century

When the war ended, Szass Tam emerged victorious. He reshaped Thay into the domain of the undeath in Faerûn, and supplanted the fractured Council of Zulkirs with those loyalist undead wizards who had embraced his "way of life", as it were.[5][21] The Red Wizards outside of Thay, either having fled or been exiled, eschewed many of their old traditions. They grew out their hair, forewent getting tattoos, and enjoyed lives as merchants, even passing on their title as "Red Wizard" through marriage, heredity, and even adoption.[26] However, there emerged another faction of exiled Red Wizards, known asthe Thayan Resurrection. They sought to restore their nation to its former glory by moving against Szass Tam and his undead scourge at every opportunity.[17]

ActivitiesEdit

For most of their history, the Red Wizards enjoyed their status as the aristocratic ruling class of Thay.[27] Led by the Imperialists, they used their authority and arcane power to spearhead numerous battles of conquest against their neighboring nations.[3][28] The Red Wizard regularly assaulted both the wild lands of Rashemen to the north,[4] and the nation of Aglarond to the west.[29]

During the mid–14th century the Red Wizards spent much of their efforts spreading their influence via their trade enclaves.[30][5] They used these havens to act as spies and concealed against for the nation of Thay.[20]

When traveling across the realms, Red Wizards were always well protected. They were often accompanied either by the fearsome gladiators of Thay,[31] clerics of Kossuth,[32] or even Thayan knights, who dedicated their lives to the role as their protectors.[33] They were hardly discreet in their journeys, often carrying themselves with boorish swagger or haughty detachment.[34]

In the years following the Second Sundering, the Thayan Red Wizards were once again relegated to serving as agents the zulkirs or even Regent Szass Tam himself.[35] They were often directed to travel the Realms to acquire powerful magical items in order for the zulkirs to further consolidate their power.[6]

AbilitiesEdit

Each Red Wizard was expected to wholly dedicate themself to a single school of magic.[38][39][6] While they could prepare more spells each day than other wizards,[36] and cast exceptionally potent spells from their preferred school,[38] Red Wizards were forced to forego spells from two separate schools of magic.[3] They were considered to be among the most powerful spellcasters, with access to the most potent spells and stalwart arcane defenses.[40]

Due to their unique arrangement of mercantile enterprise, Red Wizards had access to the finest magical items and seldom saw the need to attend magefairs.[41]

They carefully transformed their homeland of Thay to their liking using powerful weather-controlling spells,[42] and set up magical barriers that barred unwanted travelers from entrance.[43]

The Red Wizards were known practitioners of circle magic.[44] This form of magic allowed several spellcasters to combine their arcane power in order to bolster the prowess of their "circle leader", or maximize the efficacy of the leader's spells.[45] They were also among the numerous groups to have independently uncovered information about contingent spells.[46][47]

Some of the spells most readily associated with Red Wizards included animate dread warrior,[48] circle,[49] combust,[50] fiendform,[50] fire gate,[51] flame dagger,[50] flensing,[52] Nybor's gentle reminder,[53][54] and spell-lash.[55]

Just as tattoos were a featured aspect of Mulani culture, so was tattoo magic for the Red Wizards.[36][56] They even experimented with inscribing these tattoos on slaves, who they could then use to infiltrate other city-states.[57]

TacticsEdit

When conflict arose, Red Wizards gave decisive orders to the soldiers, knights, or other allied forces under their command. They worked especially closely with Thayan knights in order to coordinate defensive and offensive shifts in combat. Red Wizards were well-trained in the arts of war, but still readily listened to those trusted individuals who offered tactical advice.[32]

During battle, Red Wizards they acted aggressively. They often utilized large-area-of-effect spells to incapacitate or harm a large number of their forces. They regularly employed the various spell scrolls and wand to which they had such ready access.[32]

Base of OperationsEdit

4e red wizards

Red Wizards of Rose Keep, circa 1479 DR.

From the mid–14th century onwards, the Red Wizards maintained enclaves in many major cities all across Faerûn. While each one was considered an autonomous entity, each of them had the shared goal of greater accumulation of wealth. Prior to the Thayan civil war, the Red Wizards could act with complete unity within their enclaves, as they were considered to be set upon Thayan soil and only subject to Thayan law.[26][33]

There were sizable Thayan enclaves in the cities of Athkatla, Baldur's Gate, Calaunt, Calimport, Chavyondat,[58] Cimbar, Hillsfar,[59] Hlath, Hlondeth, Innarlith, Iriaebor, Marsember, Messemprar, Mulmaster,[60] Procampur,[61] Proskur,[62] Ravens Bluff, Saerloon, Scardale,[63] Scornubel, Skullport,[9] Soorenar, Telflamm, Veltalar,[64] Westgate, and Yhaunn.[65]

Only the tradition of separated autonomy survived the war.[26] Those Red Wizards who lived as merchants throughout Faerûn no longer received the support of their home nation of Thay.

PossessionsEdit

The most distinctive feature of the Red Wizards was their namesake red robes.[66] In fact, they were the only individuals allowed to wear red garments, save for the nation's priests of Kossuth.[3] Those who dared to break this rule were put to death.[1]

Many of the wizards preferred to wield whips as their weapons of choice.[7] They were known to create specialized versions called ebon lashes.[67][68]

RelationshipsEdit

While the Red Wizards held supreme authority in their homeland of Thay, they were not well trusted and in fact reviled across the Realms.[6] Despite the suspicions held by many, the Red Wizards were often allowed to operate their enclaves in many Faerûnian cities. From here they ran a lucrative business in the trade of magical items, spells, and even artifacts. This made them virtually indispensable to many of their clients, and as such allowed them to further expand their sphere of influence.[69]

They constantly schemed to bring down their neighboring nations of Rashemen, where they were thwarted by the equally famed magicians the Witches of Rashemen; Aglarond,[29][70][71] where they were turned back by the Simbul of the Seven Sisters;[34] and Mulhorand, from where the people of Thay first emigrated.[72]

During the height of their influence, the Red Wizards were the enemies of many forces in Toril. Amongst those who opposed them were the Witches of Rashemen, the Seven Sisters and their allies, the goodly Harpers,[73][74] and even the Zhentarim, who disliked the Wizards encroaching on their territory.[75] The Fangshields fought against th Red Wizards due to their horrific experimentation and creation of black unicorns.[76]

Although the Red Wizards' allies were few, they often proved to be powerful assets. The church of Kossuth in Thay provided much aid throughout the years,[8] and monks from the Order of the Long Death were often called upon to carry out assassinations.[77]

The Red Wizards often drew agreements with and received great support from fire genasi;[78] drow;[citation needed] and fiendish beings; such as tieflings,[79][80] demons and devils.[8][17][81] They utilized savage gnoll warriors among their legions of soldiers.[82]

Utilizing dark spells and horrific arcane experimentation, the Red Wizards created new species of beasts to be designated as their servants. Among their twisted creations were:

  • Black unicorns: These unholy combat mounts were a perversion of the revered animal.[24]
  • Blooded ones: Some unfortunate young orcs became "blood orcs" when fed alchemical concoctions.[83]
  • Chosen ones: Red Wizards twisted their slaves into new beings by means of dark magic.[84]
  • Dread warriors: These fearsome undead champions were unequaled on the battlefield.[85]
  • Neo-orogs: The Red Wizards created two sub-species of the monstrous orc–ogre hybrids.[86]

HistoryEdit

Main article: Thay#History

Formative YearsEdit

Red Wizard - Clyde Caldwell

A red wizard on the cover of Dreams of the Red Wizards.

The Red Wizards were once a secret cabal of 10th century Mulhorandi spellcasters who sought nothing more than to achieve sovereignty away from their overmasters.[87]

They won a decisive victory at the Battle of Thazalhar in the Year of the Spouting Fish, 922 DR. The wizards delved into the demoncyst beneath Thaymount and used dark rituals to elicit the aid of the fearsome demon lord Eltab. The Red Wizards were then able to overwhelm the city of Delhumide,[88] defeat the Mulhorandi god-king, and gain independence for the province of Thay.[72][89][90][91]

The Red Wizards led Thay's first attempted annexation of Rashemen in the Year of Fell Wizardry, 934 DR, but their advances were repulsed.[87][92]

In the Year of the Telltale Candle, 955 DR, the Red Wizards managed to magically transport an entire horde of orcs from the Spine of the World mountains to the lands south of Thay. Their role in the Orcgates Affair, as it came to be known, was taken to diminish the prestige of the Covenant alliance of mages.[93][94]

The Red Wizards led an assault on the Covenant's arcane school in Neverwinter during the Year of the Disastrous Bauble, 1081 DR, leading to the death of Aganazzar and a "wizardwar" between the two groups.[95] This conflict would continue until the Year of the Maelstrom, 1101 DR with the dissolution of the Covenant.[96][97]

Years of ConquestEdit

They launched their first failed invasion of Aglarond in the Year of the Bloody Wave, 1194 DR.[98] However they would repel an Aglarondar invasion at the Battle of Lapendrar in the Year of the Broken Blade, 1260 DR.[99]

When the elves of Cormanthor began to leave their forest in the Year of Moonfall, 1344 DR, the Red Wizards set their sights on the ruins of Myth Drannor. They gradually and discreetly established an enclave in Scardale Town within the Dalelands in order to gain access to the ruined elven city.[100][63]

In the Year of the Prince, 1357 DR, two members of the Council of Zulkirs forged an alliance with two of Kossuth's lesser rivals, Fyzzar the salamander lord, Marrake al-Sidan al-Hariq ben Lazan, Sultan of the Efreeti, in order to conquer the coastal cities near Thay. The zulkirs were taken advantage of by their allies, and permanent gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire was established.[101] The creatures of flame and fire would not return to their home plane and devastated the region of Priador. It was only when Zulkir Aznar Thrul was able to strike a deal with Firelord Kossuth, that the conflict known as the Salamander War came to an end.[102]

After another failed attempt at securing Rashemen in the same year, the Red Wizards planned to infiltrate the nations of Faerûn legitimately. They founded Thayan enclaves in cities across Faerûn, in which they publicly sold magic items, and discreetly trafficked in drugs, wicked spells, and slaves.[20] Using these enclaves, they hoped to infiltrate foreign politics. They would themselves powerful and indispensable to these foreigners,[69] ensuring future global domination.[43]

The Council of Zulkirs and Red Wizard organization as a whole began to experience internal strife in the Year of the Helm, 1362 DR. The Zulkir of alteration Maligor attempted to seize power from the rest of the council. His efforts were thwarted by a surprising alliance between Szass Tam and agents of the Harpers.[103]

During a Thayan invasion of Rashemen, in the Year of the Sword, 1365 DR, the Red Wizards melted glaciers atop the Icerim Mountains. The sudden waves of ice water flooded the cities of Immilmar and Mulsantir.[104]

In the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR, Red Wizards made an enemy of the since-imprisoned Eltab. The then-zulkir of necromancy Szass Tam attempted to enslave the demon lord to Thakorsil's Seat by means of the ritual of twin burnings, but was thwarted by some adventurers.[105][90] Eltab sword revenge against the necromancer and the rest of his Red Wizards.[89]

By the Year of the Tankard, 1370 DR, the Red Wizards found they had much greater success accumulating power through financial wealth rather than military might. Because of this, they ceased direct hostilities against neighboring nations for a short time.[69][106]

Civil WarEdit

Less that a decade later, in the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR, Szass Tam plunged Thay into a civil war when he began a coup against his fellow zulkirs. The Red Wizards were divided into two separate factions and fought each other in a war that lasted ten years. To defeat his foes, Tam harnessed the devastation of the Spellplague to gain god-like powers and ravage the landscape of Thay.[5][64]

The rebel zulkirs and their followers were driven from Thay as exiles. The Red Wizards' dark plots came back to haunt them and many of their enemies used the group's turmoil to assault the many enclaves.[5] Many Thayans chose to flee their home nation and settle elsewhere across the Realms.[107]

For the Red Wizards, however, the death of the zulkirs ended what the Red Wizards once had been and gave way for the new order. They suffered a great divide that would last for nearly a century. The spellcasters in Thay who declared their loyalty to Szass Tam continued to act as magocratic overseers. Those that fled Thay or chose not to return to their homeland, were forced to live new sorts of lives.[5][108]

Those Red Wizards who continued to serve Szass Tam and his undead zulkirs in Thay continued to enjoy their prestige and privilege as magocratic rulers.[108]

A great blow came to the Thayan Red Wizards, in the Year of the Dark Circle, 1478 DR, as the exiled Zulkirs interrupted Szass Tam's grand scheme to become a being of godlike power. The Zulkirs rallied what allies they had and prevented the completion of Tam's ultimate end, the ritual of the unmaking.[109][5] Their efforts cost them their lives but likely saved Faerûn from one of the greatest threats it might have ever faced and prevented Szass Tam from ever attempting the ritual on Thayan soil.[110][111]

Red Wizards DividedEdit

Renegade Red Wizards

One of the renegade Red Wizards of the Thayan Resurrection

The exiled Red Wizards were stripped of their power and prestige, living as traders[108] in the region of the Moonsea and within central Faerûn.[64] Outside of Thay, the words "Red Wizards" came to only be thought of as the quintessential merchant arcanists.[5] The exile mages transformed their old enclaves into their new homes. What had once been a facade of a purpose, the accumulation of profit through selling magical items, became daily practice as the Red Wizards eked out new lives outside of Thay.[26]

At some point during the 15th century, the Thayan Resurrection sect of Red Wizards emerged in Thay. The group openly resisted Szass Tam and his undead servitors,[17] and even managed to destroy several of the undead zulkirs.[35] The group led by Rath Modar managed to align their interests with those of the Cult of the Dragon in west Faerûn during the 1480s DR. They believed that by assisting with Tiamat's arrival to the Prime Material plane, the Dragon Queen would bestow upon them great power that could unseat Szass Tam as regent.[107]

Around the Year of the Iron Dwarf's Vengeance, 1485 DR, similarly-aligned Red Wizards traveled to the Sword Coast to gain access to four powerful elemental portals that were previously established created by a Netherese cult dedicated to the four Elemental Princes of Evil.[112][113] Like Rath Modar, they hoped this power would help them overthrow Szass Tam in Thay.[114]

Shortly thereafter, a group of Thayan Red Wizards, led by the lich Tarul Var of Bloodgate Keep, aligned themselves with the pit fiend Baazka.[115][116] They plotted to take over the nodes of Elemental Evil to create a portal that would allow Thayan soldiers to march on the Sword Coast.[117] Valindra Shadowmantle led other Thayan loyalists to the Heart of Ubtao in Chult, in order to secure or even destroy the device known as the Soulmonger.[118][119]

Also around this time, yet another group of Red Wizards accompanied a band of githyanki knights to seek out some enormous adamantine item from within a dungeon beneath the Dragon Caves of Tu'narath. It was unknown if they were members of Szass Tam's loyalists, the Thayan Resurrection, or yet some other faction.[120]

MembersEdit

The Red Wizards of Thay were highly selective about to whom they granted admittance. They nearly only took in members of the Mulan ethnic group.[108] Very few Rashemi were allowed to join their ranks,[88] and only then if they disguised themselves as Mulan.[1][7]

As their name suggested the Red Wizards admitted wizards over other arcane spellcasters, such as sorcerers or bards.[36] Even then, only about one of every six wizards in Thay was a member of the Red Wizards.[3]

Notable Red WizardsEdit

  • Maligor: The notorious zulkir of alteration once famously, and foolishly, challenged the authority and might of Szass Tam.[121]
  • Rath Modar: One of the exiled members of the Thayan Resurrection, Rath sought to summon forth the dragon deity Tiamat.[17][122]
  • Szass Tam: After serving as the zulkir of necromancy for centuries as a lich, Szass Tam elevated himself to Regent of all of Thay.[35]
  • Zhengyi: The Witch-King of Vaasa was once a mortal Red Wizard.[123]

AppendixEdit

AppearancesEdit

Adventures
Books
Dreams of the Red WizardsGhosts of Dragonspear CastleScourge of the Sword CoastHoard of the Dragon QueenThe Rise of TiamatTomb of Annihilation
Adventurers League
Dues for the DeadDark Pyramid of Sorcerer's IslePool of Radiance Resurgent
Novels
Red MagicCity of Torment
The Haunted Lands
UncleanUndeadUnholy
Video Games
Baldur's Gate series
Baldur's GateBaldur's Gate II: Shadows of AmnBaldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition
Neverwinter Nights series
Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the BetrayerNeverwinter Nights: Darkness over Daggerford

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