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Szass Tam was a powerful lich[6] and a member of a group of eight Zulkirs who ruled the country of Thay. He was the Zulkir of Necromancy and commanded the Legion of Bone, a huge legion of undead soldiers, led by his vampire and lich generals. Szass Tam was the ruler of Thaymount.

Where others see misfortune, I see only opportunity.
— Zulkir Szass Tam[7]

Description[]

Szass Tam was tall, his face had fine-boned, intellectual features[8] with dark eyes and a wispy black beard. He wore a vermilion robe with voluminous sleeves trimmed with gems and gold. He was gaunt and pale, but only his withered hands and the hint of dry rot occasionally wafting from his person truly attested to his lichdom.[9] He often had an ebony staff with him.[10] During the Spellplague, Tam's undead nature was apparent to every onlooker since the chaos rendered his magical powers close to useless thus hindering the lich from altering his burned and ruined appearance.[11]

Personality[]

Like other Red Wizards, Szass Tam preferred to remain unseen, working through lackeys and servitor creatures (including vast armies of undead) while he plotted and schemed. His undeath gave him patience. He was quite prepared to abandon servants and attempts that failed, and simply try again later in a better way. Those who met him (or seemingly real magical images of himself that he created and sent far across Faerûn) discovered Szass Tam to be calm, cultured, and even pleasant. Tam was polite but blunt, and he could be plunged instantly into cold, controlled rage by insolence or deliberate defiance. On the other hand, he seemed to admire those who crossed or foiled him by cleverness, as long as they treated him politely. He was always spinning more simultaneous intrigues than most Faerûnians have years in their lives, seemed content to view existence as a great game, with plots and schemes as the playing pieces - or, if you prefer, weapons.[12] In The Crimson Gold, Tam showed a desire to find someone worthy of sharing lichdom with him.

Possessions[]

Activities[]

Szass Tam was the Zulkir of Necromancy in Thay, its most influential Red Wizard, and—observers said—the true ruler of Thay. A lich for the last two hundred-odd years, Tam achieved his present power through great arrogance, the skills and preparation to back up his overwhelming ambitions, and the brilliant schemes of one of the most cunning and intelligent beings in all Faerûn.

Sometime before 1372 DR, Szass Tam authored a famous anatomical work known as the Aesthetics of Human Anatomy.[14]

Relationships[]

Szass Tam had a deal with Larloch, searching for ancient magic items and artifacts for him in exchange for some of Larloch's.[15]

Even though Szass Tam had dozens of attendants over the years, one - Charmaine - served the lich for decades (by 1364 DR) in exchange for food and a promise of immortality later granted. Tam appreciated a loyal servant and anticipated making her his loyal servant forever.[16]

History[]

Szass Tam was born in 1104 DR.[17] In 1157 DR he led a group of Red Wizards to slay Nyressa Flass, the Zulkir of necromancy. Afterward, Tam was named the successor to the Zulkir of necromancy.[18]

Before becoming a lich, one of his bitter rivals was a fellow Red Wizard from the school of evocation whom Szass Tam faced in a spell-slinging duel. The other Red Wizard was prepared to face Tam's necromancy spells and was caught off-guard when the future lich flung twelve fireballs into his face using a necklace of fireballs. This prompted Tam's opponent to waste most of his spells in deflecting and defending against the infernal onslaught, while Szass Tam had his entire repertoire of memorized spells at his disposal. Needless to say, the future undead emerged victorious.[19]

In 1159 DR Szass Tam became a lich after an abortive invasion of Rashemen.[18]

At some point, Tam inherited his favorite polished, enchanted, several-hundred-years-old crystal ball that belonged to his mentor, after the lich killed him. Tam increased his arcane powers after wresting all sorts of arcane devices, elixirs, and books from his dead teacher.[20]

In 1201 DR Szass Tam slew the Zulkir of illusion, Nymor Thrul after a failed invasion of Aglarond.[21] Tam later slew the Harper King, but was defeated himself by Elminster Aumar in 1222 DR.[21] In 1359 DR Tam allied Thay with the Tuigan horde.[22] Working through Harper agents, Tam defeated Maligor Zulkir of Alteration.[23] In 1367 DR Tam released the demon lord Eltab that destroyed much of Eltabbar.[24] Tam unleashed a horde of undead to attack Aglarond, but failed to breach the Watchwall.[25] In 1373 DR he aided Thazienne Uskevren to release Eltab.[26]

In 1375 DR, Tam caused the murders of the Zulkirs Druxus Rhym and Aznar Thrul and betrayed a Thayan army, under the command of tharchions Azhir Kren and Homen Odesseiron, to the Rashemi to create a climate of fear within the Thayan population.[27] He hindered the proper investigation of the murders and solved these issues by himself. He thus tried to convince the nobles, legions and common people that he was the only one who could deal with these problems,[28] in order to get himself elected supreme ruler of Thay.[29] When Dmitra Flass rallied the Zulkirs originally loyal to him to stand against his aspirations, Tam decided to achieve rulership by force and declared war to all opposing Zulkirs.[30] When Dmitra's council achieved a great victory against his undead army at the Keep of Thazar, Tam called upon the united armies of Gauros and Surthay to march south toward the great city of Bezantur.

By 1377 DR Szass Tam had established his seat of power at Thaymount by evicting his enemies from their estates on the plateau. Some of the Zulkirs changed sides a couple times during the war and ended up as Tam's allies. One of them was the diviner Yaphyll. However, after realizing that Thay under the lich's reign would be comprised of undead, she decided to switch sides again in favor of the council of Zulkirs.[31] As a result, Tam took her prisoner in 1385 DR, binding her with the Death moon orb and Thakorsil's Seat, powerful artifacts of domination. He forced Yaphyll to perform the most powerful divination known to her order, no matter the consequences to her own well-being, and to tell him how to arrange for a decisive victory over the other Zulkirs.[32] She performed the task and told Tam to lay a trap at the Keep of Sorrows. Then she left him with another vision:

"The white queen is troubled but can't say why. The black queen hates the white and gives the assassin a black coat. The assassin steals upon the white queen. She can't see him gliding through the shadows. The sword screams. The white queen falls. Her city falls. Stones fall in the cavern to crush the soothsayer. The tree burns and thrashes in agony. Branches break. Branches twist and grow together..."
— Yaphyll's vision[33]

At the end of the vision Yaphyll was surrounded by a blue flame and broke free of Szass Tam's power. The lich killed her with his poisonous touch trying to regain control over the diviner.[34] Later it became apparent that Yaphyll saw what became known as the Spellplague, the blue flames being a result of the event. As Yaphyll predicted, the fight at the Keep of Sorrows turned into Tam's favor. With the help of the Death Moon Orb, he tried to coerce his former ally Dmitra Flass into fighting for his side.[35] But then the Spellplague hit. The Death Moon Orb exploded in Tam's hand,[11] freeing Dmitra of its power. Tam was hit by a wave of azure fire, a result of the Spellplague, rendering his magic close to useless and burning the flesh from his face and hands. The lich fled from the scene with the help of Xingax.[11]

By revealing to Malark Springhill why he killed Druxus Rhym, the lich convinced the spymaster to switch sides and work for him and his greater cause henceforth.[36]

In order to learn more about the ways of magic in the time of the Spellplague, Tam summoned Bane, sacrificing the tharchion Pyras Autorian in the ritual.[37] Bane made a bargain with the lich: he would reveal to Tam his knowledge about the chaotic magic, grant the lich the ability to raise more dead for his cause, and augment the lich's powers. Tam, in turn, agreed to surrender his soul after 1000 years had passed when his quest of conquering Thay was completed.[38] Tam knew that the mystical strength lent to him by Bane would gradually fade so he choose to exploit it immediately.[39]

When it came to another fight at the Keep of Sorrows, Szass Tam summoned a dream vestige[40] to turn the tide in his favor. He succeeded in beating the legions of the Zulkirs, chasing them all the way to Bezantur. His undead legions and loyal priests of Bane further forced the Zulkirs to leave the town aboard vessels. Tam summoned the bodies of drowned men[41] and undead aquatic beasts[42] for a final and lethal victory over the Zulkirs. Accompanied by a fleet of warships made from darkness,[43] he followed the fleeing Zulkirs, entangling them in a marine war. His enemies and Nevron's conjured denizens of the infernal oceans proved quite adept at sea fight, beating back his undead minions. Tam conjured the dream vestige again, finally exhausting his magical powers bestowed by Bane. When Bareris defeated the dream vestige and the Zulkir's forces beat Szass Tam's minions, the lich and Malark withdrew to the Thaymount, the lich being content with his conquered lands.[44]

Tam didn't bother chasing the remaining Zulkirs any more, leaving Alaor and the Wizard's Reach to them[45], not fearing any retribution by the depleted Zulkir's forces. He revealed to Malark that he found a book once in possession of Fastrin the Delver.[46]

This section is a stub. You can help us by expanding it.


Gallery[]

Appendix[]

Appearances[]

Adventures
Referenced only
Rise of TiamatTales from the Yawning Portal
Novels
Red MagicCrusadeThe Crimson GoldRed AmbitionThe Crimson GoldUncleanUndeadUnholyPiecesGauntlgrymNeverwinter
Referenced only
The Ring of WinterThe Adversary
Video Games
Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition
Referenced only
Neverwinter NightsNeverwinter Nights: Shadows of UndrentideNeverwinter Nights: Darkness over Daggerford

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Steve Perrin (1988). Dreams of the Red Wizards. (TSR, Inc), p. 52. ISBN 0-88038-615-0.
  2. Note that this conflicts with Szass Tam's history as described in the short story "Red Ambition" from the Realms of Magic anthology
  3. Dale Donovan (July 1998). Villains' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), pp. 54–56. ISBN 0-7869-1236-7.
  4. Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (July 2002). Epic Level Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 297–298. ISBN 0-7869-2658-9.
  5. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 274–275. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  6. Anthony Pryor (June 1995). “Campaign Guide”. In Michele Carter, Doug Stewart eds. Spellbound (TSR, Inc.), p. 109. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  7. Curtis M. Scott (1991). Horde Campaign. (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 1-56076-130-X.
  8. Richard Lee Byers (April 2007). Unclean. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7869-4258-9.
  9. Richard Lee Byers (April 2007). Unclean. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7869-4258-9.
  10. Richard Lee Byers (April 2007). Unclean. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7869-4258-9.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  12. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 208–209. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  13. Christopher Perkins, et al. (August 2013). Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 106. ISBN 978-0786965311.
  14. Ossian Studios (June 2018). Neverwinter Nights: Darkness over Daggerford. Beamdog.
  15. Anthony Pryor (June 1995). “Campaign Guide”. In Michele Carter, Doug Stewart eds. Spellbound (TSR, Inc.), p. 106. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  16. Jean Rabe (1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), p. 134. ISBN 1-5607-6118-0.
  17. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 119. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 122. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  19. BioWare, Floodgate Entertainment (June 2003). Designed by Brent Knowles, Rick Ernst. Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide. Atari.
  20. Jean Rabe (1991). Red Magic. (TSR, Inc.), p. 125. ISBN 1-5607-6118-0.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 125. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  22. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 144. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  23. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 146. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  24. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 147. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  25. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 149. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  26. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 154. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  27. Richard Lee Byers (April 2007). Unclean. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 246. ISBN 978-0-7869-4258-9.
  28. Richard Lee Byers (April 2007). Unclean. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 249. ISBN 978-0-7869-4258-9.
  29. Richard Lee Byers (April 2007). Unclean. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 250. ISBN 978-0-7869-4258-9.
  30. Richard Lee Byers (April 2007). Unclean. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 317. ISBN 978-0-7869-4258-9.
  31. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 3. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  32. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  33. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  34. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  35. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 63. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  36. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 176. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  37. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 201. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  38. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 204–205. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  39. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 207. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  40. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 255. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  41. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 303. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  42. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 304. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  43. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 305. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  44. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 323–336. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  45. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 341. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  46. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 342. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.

Sources[]

Externals links[]

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