Tel-quessir (also Tel'Quessir or Tel'Quess) are a number of closely related, long-lived fey races commonly known as elves, though this term is now acknowledged to be technically inaccurate. Nonetheless, the name is common and many of the Tel-quessir consider themselves as one larger culture, an attitude not unjustified given that nearly all Tel-quessir speak Elven and share a common history together. Perhaps more importantly, the Tel-quessir were once one race, generally assumed to have been the eladrin or "high elves."
For these reasons and others, the Tel-quessir are often considered as though they were one race and called "elves." Except when stated otherwise, the word "elf" and "elven" are used in this context throughout the article.
Although individual Tel-quessir races exhibit a number of unique traits, there are some features which are common to all of the races. Tel-quessir tend to be fair, beautiful and graceful, though they are very often frail as well. Tel-quessir are also universally long-lived, achieving what they consider adulthood at 110 years of age and living for up to 700 and more years thereafter.
Many Tel-quessir do not sleep but instead "trance," though this is an ability universal only for eladrin. During this state, Tel-quessir are partially aware of their surroundings and are less asleep than an act of meditation. In this state, Tel-quessir achieve the same results as a human might through sleeping in roughly two thirds the time. Tel-quessir able to trance are also often resistant to the effects of supernatural powers such as sleep, since they do not themselves sleep but instead rest in a semi-aware state.
Tel-quessir, as a rule, tend to be supremely aware of their surroundings, with more potent senses of sight and sound than humans. All Tel-quessir have the ability to see in low light conditions unhampered, though drow also possess the ability to see in the dark.
Most Tel-quessir are buried rather than cremated, though a Tel-quessir's body is always treated in accordance with the individual's wishes when possible. The only exception being when a Tel-quessir has been slain by some form of undead. Due to the reverence for life common amongst most Tel-quessir they will never willingly permit their dead to rise as evil undead. To avoid this their bodies are cremated to prevent their “resurrection” as undead. If a Tel-quessir who has reached the extent of their natural life wishes to live on there are four other options to dying.
Warriors can petition priests of Corellon or Labelas to allow them to become Reverend Ones. These fighters still die and go to Arvandor but whenever a Tel-quessir nation is under threat they return to Toril to protect that nation. These spirits spend little, if any, time enjoying their afterlives, instead they nearly continually hone their skills of the battlefield.
Tel-quessir more inclined towards nature can choose to be buried under the roots of a tree in Cormanthor and subject to a particular blessing of either High Magic or druidic magic. They are then transformed into a Treant. Female Tel-quessir can also choose to transform themselves into either a dryad or a nymph when they die through a ritual. These reincarnated Tel-quessir are then tied forever to the place where the ritual was performed.
Tel-quessir are a relaxed people, with a degree of patience and detachment granted to them by their long lifespans. Tel-quessir are not easily excited and lack the greed that sometimes characterizes other races. Most Tel-quessir are unconcerned with the events that only affect the short-term and are likewise slow to make friends or enemies since time for them is measured in centuries, not decades. Focused in whatever they apply themselves to, Tel-quessir ignore the slight but rarely forget the serious.
Because of their long lifespan, most Tel-quessir have a patience uncommon to other humanoids. Tel-quessir view the lives and concerns of younger races as fleeting and take less joy in the short-term victories that other races have to content themselves with. Instead, Tel-quessir take pleasure in things that have more endurance, such as the arts or the honing of one's skills.
Tel-quessir have an affinity for freedom more than anything else, preferring the way of unrestricted liberty to the restraints of civilized law and order. Liberty, both of one's self and of others, tends to be the greatest virtue in Tel-quessir cultures. This love for freedom is often tempered by a good and generous nature, though not always, drow In particular standing out as an example of evil amongst the Tel-quessir.
Because of this, Tel-quessir governments tend to be very loosely organized, with small groups of Tel-quessir accepting the legitimacy of a respected noble, who in turn acknowledges the authority of a monarchical king. Though Tel-quessir empires have been built in the past, few in the present currently exist. Instead, most Tel-quessir, be they eladrin or elf, prefer to live in natural harmony with nature. Prior to the Spellplague many moon, sun, and wood elven rulers paid their respects to the Elven Court, presided over by Queen Amlaruil in Evermeet.
Tel-quessir are typically omnivorous, like humans, but tend to eat very little meat. This is not so much out of a concern for the animal as an effort to make as little of an impact on the natural world as possible, with Tel-quessir believing that the consumption of vegetation has a slighter effect on the natural harmony. Additionally, this partially comes from many Tel-quessir cultures' traditions of nomadic life, which require food to be easily preservable.
Tel-quessir tend to take up the adventurer's lifestyle for a number of reasons. Some do so out of, more than anything, boredom or a sense of wanderlust that drives them to explore beyond the boundaries of their homelands. Tel-quessir do not like being tied down and most often pursue careers that lend themselves well to adventuring. Some Tel-quessir enjoy adventuring as a way to demonstrate their own skill, such as with a bow or sword, while others do so in order to help others.
Relations with other races
“Tel-quessir” is the elven word for “the people.” Likewise, “N-Tel-Quess” is the elven word for "not people" and is used to refer to races outside of the Tel-quessir. This often gives other races the impression that Tel-quessir are elitist, racist and condescending to other races, but most simply see these as words with no hidden meaning or agenda.
Although the other races sometimes believe the Tel-quessir to be arrogant and condescending, the fey races don't hold any particular hatred for any races as a whole, though individual races may have particular attitudes. The harshest racial conflict for the Tel-quessir is actually often within, given the long-standing feud between the drow and the other Tel-quessir races. The Tel-quessir can seem distant and unfriendly because many of the other races, such as humans and halflings, have a much shorter lifespan. It is easier for one of the Tel-quessir to avoid contact with these races, rather than befriend individuals who will live only a small fraction of the elven life.
Dwarves and the Tel-quessir generally have a different problem in forming relationships. Dwarves favor hard work whereas the Tel-quessir generally enjoy relaxation. Dwarves enjoy carving homes from the rock and engineering unswerving straight lines, while elves prefer more natural, flowing shapes. Dwarves and Tel-quessir can form strong bonds of friendship, but only when both agree to overlook each other's differences.
Gnomes and Tel-quessir, both fey creatures in origin, generally get along well due to their mutual love of life, combined with the gnomes' love of fine art and illusion magic. On the other hand, halflings and Tel-quessir share only a lukewarm relationship. The Tel-quessir trait of eating sparingly is not welcomed in halfling society, and Tel-quessir can sometimes deem a halfling's curiosity as childlike and troublesome.
Tel-quessir regard humans with both fear and respect. Humans can grasp magic and adapt to many situations incredibly fast from the perspective of the Tel-quessir, but the fey are wary of the human tendency to claim lands as their own, often regarding them as greedy. It is quite possible for strong friendship to develop between humans and Tel-quessir, but it is equally possible that hostilities might arise.
The Tel-quessir's origins are uncertain but recent evidence suggests they were born in the war between Gruumsh and Corellon. During the battles Corellon shed some of his divine blood and it is said that from this blood the eladrin were born. Elves, who do not like the implication of superiority that often precedes the eladrin's supposition that they came first, are not always so convinced of this tale, however. Given the Feywilds tendency to produce "echoes" of creatures from the Prime it is also possible the Tel-quessir are one such echo. Regardless, it is now well-acknowledged that the Tel-quessir originally came from the Feywild, also known as Faerie, and immigrated to the then united worlds of Abeir-Toril over a hundred millennia ago, with the green elves arriving first.
After their arrival the Tel-quessir went about building their empires and the first such state was created in approximately −24,000 DR by the gold elves although ancient texts suggest that the Tel-quessir were present on Toril at around −30,000 DR which was approximately when the draconic species established their first empires.
The Tel-quessir reigned on Toril in relative peace until −12,000 DR when the gold elf nation of Aryvandaar invaded the dark elf and green elf nation of Miyeritar, starting the first of five Crown Wars which, in total lasted for 3000 years.
At the end of the fourth war, the dark elven Ilythiiri were banished to the Underdark, becoming the drow. Finally the fifth war that followed resolved matters, ending the conflicts. The Tel-quessir remained at peace with each other (with, of course the exception of the drow) and the dwarves had established themselves fully.
For many millennia, thousands of Tel-quessir, particularly moon elves and sun elves, left Faerûn for the isle of Evermeet in a long migration known as the Retreat. However, by 1374 DR most of the Tel-quessir who desired to leave had already done so, as remarked upon by Cambrizym of Candlekeep, and in fact, the Retreat began a gradual reversal, with many who had left or their children returning to the continent.
Tel-quessir, regardless of their native plane, tend to favor woodlands over other terrains, though exceptions exist. Most Tel-quessir communities are relatively small in scale, around a few hundred in number, and blend easily into the natural landscape. These communities are usually very well isolated and contact between Tel-quessir and outsiders is usually a matter of deliberate contact rather than accidental as a result.
Tel-quessir who live among humans, of whom there are many, tend to take on lives that favor the arts, such as that of minstrels, artists, or sages. Many are also valued as martial instructors, given the Tel-quessir races' well-known skills with both the bow and the sword.
There are at least three different sub-categories of Tel-quessir. Many elves were quite proud of their particular sub-race. It has been said that to insult a moon elf, call him a gray elf. To insult a sun elf, call him a moon elf.
- Sun elves: Also called gold elves, sun elves were highly civilized elves with a natural gift for wizardry.
- Moon elves: Also called silver elves, moon elves were one of the most common subraces. They lived a nomadic lifestyle, and often interacted with other races.
- Star elves: Also called mithral elves, they were an isolated subrace that lived on the demiplane of Sildeyuir.
- Sy-tel-quessir, or sylvan elves, were either considered as one race, two cultures of one race, or two separate races.
- Wood elves: Also called copper elves and often confused with wild elves, wood elves were a populous subrace that lived simply in the forests.
- Wild elves: Also called green elves; feral, reclusive elves who scorned civilization and its trappings, preferring a wild existence close to nature.
- Drow: A dark-skinned subrace of elves that predominantly lived in the Underdark.
- Aquatic elves: An aquatic race of water-breathing elves.
- Avariel: A mostly extinct race of winged elves.
- Lythari: A rare and reclusive race of sylvan elves who transformed into wolves.
Other Tel-quessir races
Other non-Tel-quessir but related races
- half-elf, half-drow or Half-sea elf : the result of a human and Tel-quessir mating
- fey'ri : the offspring of a Tel-quessir and a fiend
- Draegloth : created by the ritual sexual intercourse between Lolth's ascending high priestess and a glabrezu
- Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- James Wyatt (December 2007). Dragon 361: A Fractured Family. Wizards of the Coast.
- Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 38–40. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 104. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
- Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet and Monte Cook (October 2000). Monster Manual 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 86. ISBN 0-7869-1552-1.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
- Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet and Monte Cook (October 2000). Monster Manual 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 85. ISBN 0-7869-1552-1.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 14. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 15. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), pp. 21, 25. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 22. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), pp. 23, 25. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 13–15. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Elaine Cunningham (April 2003). Windwalker (Hardcover). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 148. ISBN 0-7869-2968-5.
- Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 105–107. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 21–24. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 39. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- Richard Lee Byers (August 2003). Dissolution. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2944-8.
Aquatic Elves: Aquatic elf • Marel
Dark Elves: Dark elf • Drow
Sylvan Elves: Wild elf • Wood elf
Miscellaneous: Avariel • Dusk elf • Lythari • Poscadar elf • Snow elf
Planetouched: Celadrin • Draegloth • Eladrin • Fey'ri • Shadar-kai
Humanblood: Crinti • Half-elf • Half-drow • Half-sea elf
Dragonblood: Drow-dragon (shadow) • Drow-dragon (deep) • Zekyl • Zar'ithra
Miscellaneous: Drider • Maraloi