- 1 Etymology & Language
- 2 History
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Government
- 5 Armed forces
- 6 Coat of Arms
- 7 Economy & Trade
- 8 Culture & Society
- 9 Description & Layout
- 10 Organizations
- 11 Notable Inhabitants
- 12 Appendix
Etymology & Language
During the Vast's so-called Time of Glorious Fools (from 649 DR onwards), Tantras was among those harbors that served as landing spots for immigrants and rest stops for pirates. These harbors were developed as trade ports for the trading vessels came from Aglarond, Impiltur, Sembia, and Westgate.
In the Year of the Creeping Fang, 1305 DR, Thilana, the leader of the pirates of the Dragonisle, visited Tantras to check in on her extensive network of informants and spies. However, she was strangled to death one night by Laershala of the Emerald Eyes, one of her own pirate captains, who then seized control of the pirate fleet.
For some years in the 1350s DR, the infamous Kaverin Ebonhand and his gang terrorized Tantras, committing crimes so shocking that they became notorious around the Dragon Reach and earned Kaverin the moniker "Butcher of Tantras".
Finally, Kaverin ordered the murder of Rallo Scarson, a Harper who threatened to bring down his network. Two adventurers, the ex-Harper Artus Cimber and Sir Hydel Pontifax, amassed evidence that proved Kaverin's guilt beyond reasonable doubt, but brought him to trial in the neighboring city of Ravens Bluff in the Year of the Prince, 1357 DR. On Marpenoth 5, the Lord's Court of Ravens Bluff found Kaverin guilty of ordering the murder, but since the henchman who had committed the crime had already been executed for it, they commuted his sentence to chopping his hands off. Kaverin laughed as the deed was done, and then his mage attorney attached to the stumps two black stones that formed into new, prosthetic hands. Proudly displaying his new hands, Kaverin pointed to Cimber and Pontifax, then returned to Tantras a free man.
Time of Troubles
During the Time of Troubles, in the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, skeletons rose from their graves to take over the neighboring town of Hlintar. Refugees from Hlintar and other chaos-stricken areas fled to Tantras and other Vast cities.
The god Torm the True manifested in the city of Tantras and took up residence there, making the city famous. Meanwhile, led by their heretical high priest, his faithful persecuted those of other gods, labeling them as "unbelievers" in a display of religious bigotry.
During this, Tantras prepared for war against the forces of Zhentil Keep, which followed close behind their god Bane the Black Lord. The "Guard" of Tantras mobilized, commandeering privately owned homes by the coast, as well as a number of inns (including the Roaring Lion Inn and Gulder's Good Grub Inn), for use as barracks. Meanwhile, the Tantran navy seized the Green Sirene as a barracks and recruiting post. Halemar's Fine Blades, an armorer and weaponsmith, was kept very busy crafting materiel for the war effort, while Muldiver the Shipwright readied the ships.
Torm eventually discovered the crimes of his priests and punished them for it. Then the god Bane arrived to take one of the Tablets of Fate, which he'd hidden in the city. In a titanic battle in the harbor, Torm fought Bane, and absorbed the souls of thousands of his willing faithful there to strengthen himself. Torm did not take the children of the faithful, however, leaving a generation of orphans known as the Martyr's Progeny.
In the end, both gods slew one another, and left parts of the city destroyed, depopulated, and in a massive dead-magic zone. After the battle, the Trueblades, an order of crusaders devoted to Torm, worked to perform damage control.
Later, looting mobs of refugees from Tantras and other cities suffering strife wandered the Vast. Meanwhile, in the southern Vast, many wealthy merchants of Procampur and Tsurlagol fled to their country houses in the town of Maerstar. However, they were harassed by the mobs, who'd also come through Maerstar, and some were killed.
Despite the devastation, Tantras made a good recovery after the Time of Troubles, and even prospered. The destruction was almost fully repaired well before 1372 DR. The overhauled and chastised faith of Torm became very tolerant and indulgent of the other faiths in the city.
With the Horde Wars in east and northeastern Faerûn over 1359–1360 DR, the Tuigan Horde was expected to overrun Thesk and Impiltur and then the Vast, before continuing east. Thus, King Azoun IV of Cormyr called for a crusade against the Tuigan Horde in the Year of the Turret, 1360 DR. Tantras was among those free cities that sent envoys to Azoun's council on Tarsakh 10, and contributed 1,600 well-trained volunteer soldiers, as well as wizards, to the crusade.
After three years of Kaverin Ebonhand attempting to revenge himself upon Artus Cimber and Hydel Pontifax, and them thwarting his schemes and disposing of his agents, things finally came to a head in 1360 DR. Kaverin slipped up and was caught in a tavern in the open without his bodyguards by Artus and Hydel, and Hydel blew him to bits with a lightning bolt spell. However, since they'd used magic and neglected to call in the watch, the city authorities charged the pair with murder and a dozen other offenses. Artus and Hydel escaped, and were forced to avoid Tantras for at least the next three years. Meanwhile, Kaverin made a deal with Cyric, the then Lord of the Dead, gaining his life back in order to spread chaos and strife.
Kaverin Ebonhand remained mostly in the safety of Tantras, protected by the Cult of Frost, which he'd seized control of. Finally, in the Year of the Wyvern, 1363 DR, Kaverin Ebonhand and the Mulhorandi mage Phyrra al-Quim and their minions left the city to hunt for the famed Ring of Winter in Chult, following Artus Cimber and Hydel Pontifax themselves. On the ship Narwhal, travelling from Baldur's Gate to Chult, Kaverin and Phyrra, masqueraded as Tantrasan ambassadors to keep Artus and Hydel from investigating for fear of being arrested or tried on the spot. Regardless, Artus finally slew Kaverin in Chult with the power of the ring.
Tantras was among those areas covered by the Tyrantfog of 9–11 Mirtul of the Year of the Tankard, 1370 DR. Under the fog, Cyric worshipers were afflicted with terrible diseases, while followers of Iyachtu Xvim were strengthened. Finally, items and beings filled with Bane's power were destroyed, and baneliches hidden in Tantras exploded. The Tyrantfog then burned away in green flame.
Later that year, following her war against Ravens Bluff, Myrkyssa Jelan reappeared with another army, likely the remnants or reserves of her first, and this time marched on Tantras. She demanded the city's surrender, else she'd raze it to the ground. The Tantran High Council met with the Warlord, and they came to some agreement. The terms of this were unknown, but Jelan's army withdrew without attacking. Tantras had requested aid from Procampur and Ravens Bluff, but by the time this arrived, Jelan's army had faded into the mountains.
Later in 1370 DR, Ravens Bluff proposed the formation of a regional government in the Vast, but Tantras strongly rejected the proposal.
A regional government was eventually formed in the Vast, as the formerly independent city-states of Calaunt, Ravens Bluff, and Tantras united in the nation of Vesperin. It was still a young nation by 1479 DR. Tantras was named its capital.[note 1]
In 1358 DR, the city had an estimated population of around 69,000 people. This could rise to ~86,000 in the summer. However, the city had space to comfortably house up to 89,000. This made it the third-largest city in the Vast at the time. In 1372 DR, Tantras was listed with a population of 21,816, making it the fourth-largest city in the Vast. The mostly human population was of largely Chondathan and Damaran extraction. [note 2]
In the 14th century DR, Tantras was governed by the High Council. This comprised the heads of sixteen of the local noble merchant families as well as the high priest of the temple of Torm, as it was the most influential church in the city. In effect, the older noble houses—which had led the city for over four generations—formed alliances and voting blocs and thus decided matters as they saw fit. In 1358 DR, after the Troubles, these families and their alliances were Aldimer–Mathlin–Uruthkurt, Baraedin–Mithertul–Onsil–Naskurl, and Channath–Elovear–Laranadda–Tithlin–Vandover. Another family was Ormitar; at the time, Lassalar Ormitar was both a member of the High Council and commander of the Guard.
In the 15th century DR, Tantras was the capital city of the nation of Vesperin. As such, it was the base for the Golden Lords, an oligarchic council of the richest and most influential and powerful merchants who ruled the land. The title "Golden Lord" was granted to all council members, regardless of gender. The membership fluctuated with its members' fortunes, but the council itself remained stable and acted consistently and reliably. They worked to preserve a status quo and to ensure a basic quality of life for the people of Vesperin. [note 3]
Tantras was one of the five so-called "sister cities" of the Vast, together with Calaunt, Procampur, Ravens Bluff, and Tsurlagol. Ravenians liked to think of Tantras as their city's "dark twin", though Tantrans thought otherwise. Either way, Tantras was one of the leading cities of the Vast by 1372 DR.
Law & Order
The High Council endeavored to go unnoticed as a government and to make few restrictions on citizens. Being composed of merchant houses, it focused mainly on setting tariffs, making laws that regulated trade, and making business easy for merchants. It cared less about the actions of thieves' guilds and adventurers unless they impacted on mercantile interests. What people did outside business was their own affair. As a result, Tantras was a boisterous, almost lawless, wide-open city. Only the more extreme crimes and breaches of courtesy would get the Guard involved. The Guard under Lassalar Ormitar was more serious about limiting merchant freedoms in favor of law and order. The harbor was strictly policed.
However, Tantras cracked down hard on smuggling and piracy, those crimes that most affected trade, and judges were rarely lenient in these cases. Smugglers had their illicit goods confiscated and were fined to the same value, while repeat offenders were typically executed. Pirates were sentenced to death by drowning, being tied to heavy stones and dumped in the Dragon Reach. Nevertheless, Tantras did not worry overmuch about piracy unless one of its own ships was involved.
The armed forces of the city were called simply the "Guard", and had the duty of both defending the city and policing it. Just after the Time of Troubles in 1358 DR, the Guard was commanded by Lassalar Ormitar, a member of the Council. Although the Guard was directly responsible to the Council, their loyalties lay with Lassalar, who was more serious about restricting merchant freedoms in favor of law and order.
The Guard consisted of about 900 male and female fighters. Regular troops, who patrolled in units of fourteen, were outfitted in plate mail armor and carried spears, short swords, and daggers. Patrols were led by "longswords", or sergeants, who carried longswords and maces. When multiple units were involved, they took orders from officers, who wielded maces, morningstars, or short swords. Crossbowmen and wizards were called in emergencies. Thirty-strong garrisons of crossbowmen mainly guarded the harbor and manned the ballista batteries there.
Tantras also had a reserve militia of about 6,000 that could be called up when needed. However, these were mostly not professionals but folk who had other jobs and thus they were considered poor-quality troops.
Tantras was also home to the Trueblades, a Torm-worshiping crusader order. The Trueblades performed damage control during warfare and disasters, such as after the cataclysmic battle between the gods Torm and Bane in 1358 DR.
As the city-state had little outside territory to defend, Tantras's naval forces were few. Nevertheless, the city maintained almost half-a-dozen warships in case it had need of them.
Coat of Arms
The heraldic coat of arms of the city of Tantras showed a curling silver ocean wave (a breaker) surmounted by three silver stars, on a field of royal blue. This crest was emblazoned on the blue oiled plate mail armor of the soldiers of the Guard, called the "blue and silver".
Economy & Trade
Tantras was a busy port city, humming with industry yet characterized by diligent entrepreneurs among its ruling merchant families. The people were prosperous and wealthy, from nobles to common folk. Tantras thrived on trade between the Vast and the Dragon Reach and beyond, with goods flowing to and fro. Farmers and crafters of the interior brought their goods here for sale to the ships that docked in the port, while more trade came up from Procampur. Tantras recovered well from the destruction inflicted during the Time of Troubles, and even flourished from it, such that it, along with Ravens Bluff, challenged Procampur as the wealthiest city of the Vast.
It was made popular for trade by the many cargo-lifting cranes in the harbor, which provided the ability to move large amounts of freight in and out quickly. These cranes had been installed by the temple of Gond, which received a copper piece for every load lifted. They were recent inventions by the mid-1300s, and were also in use in Baldur's Gate and Scardale and other ports. The heavy policing and defenses of the harbor area also made the port desirable to merchant shipping.
Shops in Tantras had an excellent range of products, much more than normally available on this stretch of the Dragon Reach, though the selection was reduced in a hard winter. In particular, they had quality wines and a wide variety of ornaments and novelties and rare items.
Tantras's own products included crates, wagons, locks, wrought-iron hardware, and building parts like carved wooden window casements, posts, and railings. The city also produced locally caught fish, including the spiced and pickled "Tantran finefish".
Culture & Society
Although it had grown wealthy and proud on the back of its trade, Tantras remained an active and dynamic city, not one set in its ways or fallen to decadence. It could be described it as ever-changing. The city was dominated by the entrepreneurs of the merchant families and by the priests of its many temples. The city was home to major temples of Lathander, Gond, Selûne, Milil, Tempus, Torm, and Tymora, with smaller shrines to Cyric, Loviatar, Umberlee, and Waukeen also present.
Tantras was indeed dominated by religion, particularly that of Torm the True, the paladin god of duty, loyalty, and obedience. The Tormite faith was always popular among Tantrans, and remained so after the Time of Troubles, when the god himself gave his life to defend the city from Bane, the Lord of Darkness (despite the destruction and loss of life their battle wrought on the city). Torm was venerated as the savior of Tantras even after he was restored to life. Tantras was the center of the Tormite faith around the Inner Sea, and home to the greatest Tormtar temple in Faerûn. The Temple of Torm's Coming was the most successful, dominant, and influential church in the city, and led the spiritual and social life of its citizens. The high priest even had a seat on the governing High Council.
This influence was not always to the best, however. During the Troubles, the church of Torm, under a heretical high priest, took to persecuting "unbelievers" — those who held to other faiths — in a show of religious intolerance. Temples of the other faiths suffered harshly under this regime, with some even destroyed. However, Torm's condemnation of the heretics' behavior and subsequent reforms saw the temple much more indulgent of the other religions. Nevertheless, this period harmed Tantras's reputation. Many rural inhabitants of the Vast felt Tantras was overly dominated by religion, a "god-ridden" place home to suspicious and unfriendly people, namely the Tormites.
The city was however a haven for many adventurers and a sanctuary for folk fleeing dangerous wizards and groups like the Zhentarim of Zhentil Keep and the Red Wizards of Thay. This was thanks to the merchant lords' light rule, the successful thieves' guild, the numerous priests, and especially the large dead-magic zone.
Owing to the presence of the large dead-magic zone and the associated difficulty of casting spells around the city, few wizards chose to establish themselves in Tantras after the Time of Troubles. Those who did learned to be cunning and to hide their Art from others. They developed a natural sensitivity to magic, automatically sensing a nearby aura roughly one-third of the time, though not to identify or locate it. However, they also had to learn highly precise and taxing spellcasting techniques. This made them somewhat slow to react and cast spells.
Tantran warriors were typically more cosmopolitan than their peers, usually knowing another language. Furthermore, owing to the many priests in the city, they were well versed in a particular Faerûnian religion. However, following the appearance of the dead-magic zone, they grew lax in their defenses against magic, and thus more vulnerable.
Rogues and thieves of Tantras had no special character distinct from their trade and nationality, but most were members of the resident thieves' guild, the Grayclaws. Those who were not and did not come to some arrangement with the guild found their careers cut suddenly short.
In the 15th century DR, as capital city of Vesperin, Tantras was no longer so changeable or flexible. Instead, it had developed a highly structured society, with rigid class divisions and hierarchies, along social, economic, and political lines. Signs of such social hierarchy manifested in the price of goods in shops and of housing, and in the business and residential districts.
The rich upper class enjoyed ostentatious displays of their wealth, particularly in the ornamentation and unnecessary decorations that were everywhere in the city. Expensive gold leaf covered furniture, carriages, and even architectural features, and so were a common target of thieves. Thus the wealthy hired private guards, militias, and small armies for the defense of their homes.
Description & Layout
Tantras was a large and prosperous city, evidenced by the fine housing of its citizens, from the well-kept cottages of the shopkeepers and common laborers, to the grand houses, villas, and mansions of the wealthy and noble on the eastern shore. However, these grand houses were apt to commandeered as barracks by the military, as happened in the Time of Troubles.
Tantras was a walled city, its city wall set with towers and two gate houses leading to the road. The Sea Tower stood on the city's coast, on the southern side of the opening of the bay, at the end of Whistleturn Way. This was the city's main fortress and base for the Guard. It held armories and training areas for soldiers.
Tantras's harbor was well fortified with ballista batteries on the coast and on either side of the entrance of the harbor mouth, and catapults mounted on coast towers. A massive chain-boom barrier could be lowered over the mouth of the harbor to guard the port and block it in the event of naval attack. Ingenious mechanical cranes installed by the followers of Gond from the House of Skilled Hands quickly loaded and unloaded cargo to and from trade ships. Secure, efficient, and popular for trade, the harbor was a crowded and bustling place. The harbor was ringed by warehouses, secured by private mercenaries.
The city was home to a number of temples. The greatest was the Temple of Torm's Coming, which sat atop the highest hill in the city. The other major temples, located around the city, were the Happy House of Splendor and Song, dedicated to Milil, Lord of Song; the House of Glory to Tempus, Lord of Battles; the House of Hope for Tymora the Luckbringer; the House of Moonlight for Selûne the Moonmaiden; the House of Skilled Hands to Gond the Wonderbringer; and the Morning Halls to Lathander the Morninglord. Scattered around the city were also shrines to Lathander again and to Waukeen, the Merchant's Friend. There were even thriving but concealed shrines to evil deities like Cyric, Prince of Lies; Loviatar, Maiden of Pain; and Umberlee, Queen of the Depths. Furthermore, beneath the city were the Halls of Demarch, home to worshipers of Mask, Master of All Thieves, and of Leira, Lady of Deception.
The Temple of Torm's Coming, led by High Priest Barriltar Bhandraddon, got its name after the Time of Troubles in honor of Torm's physical manifestation within the temple itself which quickly resulted in robust growth and great influence on the city's spiritual and social life.
There were many inns in Tantras, and they welcomed all clientele, even adventures. But they were often quiet places, where busy and hard-working merchants expected to get a good night's sleep. In the mid–14th century DR, the Roaring Lion Inn was considered "the best in town". Meanwhile, those who wanted to party or make some noise were expected to go to a tavern, which could be open any time of day. The most notable were the House of Twilight, a famous nightclub, and the Silly Satyr, an infamously wild tavern. Many other small taverns and clubs popped up in the center of the city, but faded away just as quickly as their owners' fortunes rose and fell.
The most notable landmark in Tantras was the Great Bell, also known as the Bell of Aylen Attricus. This sat on the second highest hill in the city, on the southeastern side. Just north of the Bell was the Fountain of the Mermaid, whose origins were lost to history. In the southwest was a bronze statue of the long-ago hero Brandon Battlemaster, riding a horse with his cloak streaming behind him. At the center of the city was a large green area, an open-air marketplace known commonly as the Market. It was typically very busy and crowded. A more notorious landmark was Blacklamp Alley in the central north part, which was frequently the scene of brawls and murders.
In theaters in Tantras, actors playing gods and goddesses employed complicated harnesses suspended from the rafters, enabling them to hang over the stage.
- Agate Anchor • Bowdar's Wagonworks • Halemar's Fine Blades • Saprach's Fine Wines
- Roaring Lion Inn • Weeping Wyvern • Green Sirene • Lazy Moon Inn • Gulder's Good Grub Inn
- House of Twilight • Net of Stars • Silly Satyr
- Halls of Demarch (Leira & Mask) • Happy House of Splendor and Song (Milil) • House of Glory (Tempus) • House of Hope (Tymora) • House of Moonlight (Selûne) • House of Skilled Hands (Gond) • Morning Halls (Lathander) • Temple of Torm's Coming (Torm)
- Other locations
- Sea Tower • Tantran Guild of Merchant Masters • Tarntassa's Tower
- Roads and streets
- Ember Lane • Blacklamp Alley • Bowshot Street • Dragonleather Street • Finlisker Street • Hammerwind Street • Mairse Run • Marlstone Lane • Roel Street • Sandril's Lane • Seaspray Street • Shendle Street • The Street of the Six • The Street of Shadows • Stumble Street • Thirlpost Lane • Whistleturn Way
The Grayclaws were an effective thieves' guild composed of thieves and smugglers. Loyal to Tantras, they operated mostly only against visitors and those Tantran natives that they felt deserved it, i.e., the very rich, the arrogant, and the immoral. At one time or another, they defended their city against outside factions attempting to muscle into the underworld, including the Cult of the Dragon, the Red Wizards of Thay, the Zhentarim of Zhentil Keep, Inner Sea pirates sponsored by Calishite slavers, and even the Harpers. Around 1358 DR, the Grayclaws were led by Amlithor Harlguss and Othniir Xalast. The Grayclaws were named for the claw-like weapons they favored, which made them dangerous in a fight and skilled climbers.
The Harpers had a strong presence in Tantras, and they had the support and guidance of the Happy House of Splendor and Song, the local temple of Milil. The temple was considered by some to be a place to contact Those Who Harp. Important Tantras-based Harpers included the bards Felitarr "Flyingfingers" Wendilar and Deltara Dragynstarr. Lightal Barnshyn the caravan outfitter was a Harper agent and the mage Tarntassa was a Harper friend. For the most part, the Harpers largely left the Grayclaws thieves’ guild alone, owing to the Grayclaws' proven ability to keep their common enemies out of Tantras.
An organization of beguilers jointly devoted to the goddess Leira, Lady of Deception, and to the god Mask, Lord of Shadows, was once based in Tantras, out of the hidden Halls of Demarch. Demarch's Alliance, as it was known, collapsed after the Time of Troubles, with its members turning on each other in sectarian violence. They were succeeded by Demarch's Folly, a band of survivors who practiced shadow magic and occupied their former guildhall.
- Dhaerhaera Nanatar, an adventuress wizard who captured and tamed a griffon.
- Tarntassa, a wizard and friend and ally of Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun, easily recognized by her tall stature and very long ponytail.
- Zhundult Ulblesk, known as "Stormhand", was aggressively private and considered a dangerous mage.
- Bhaeryta Chassendora, a merchant specializing in rare spell casting components.
- Somidorr Danthan, a wealthy smuggler known to desire useful magic items and stop at nothing to get them.
- Felitarr Wendilar, known as "Flyingfingers", an important Harper.
- Deltara Dragynstarr, also with the Harpers.
- It is unknown exactly when the unification into Vesperin occurred between 1372 DR and 1479 DR.
- The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3rd edition) saw widespread, significant population reductions, though it is not clear why. The larger figure of 69,000 may refer to the population of the surrounding land that Tantras controls, while 21,816 may only be those people within the city itself.
- It is unclear if the Golden Lords of Vesperin rule Tantras directly, or if Tantras retains some form of local government like the High Council. Calaunt, another city of Vesperin, is confirmed to retain its former government, suggesting Tantras does too.
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- James Lowder (November 1992). The Ring of Winter. (TSR, Inc), p. 101. ISBN 978-1560763307.
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