A tressym was a magical beast resembling a small winged cat. They could be found across the warm and temperate lands of Faerûn, and were most common in northern Cormyr, particularly in the village of Eveningstar where they were seen as good luck charms and mascots and praised for keeping down rodents. They were also popular as familiars for good wizards.
A tressym resembled a small cat, roughly the size of a common housecat, and growing up to 2 feet (61 centimeters) long from nose to tail. Their primary feature was of course their wings.
Extending from their well-muscled shoulders, these wings were formed like a bat's, being divided into arc-segments by hollow elongated "finger" bones. However, the leathery membranes between these bones were covered in feathers. These wings had a maximum wingspan of 3 feet (0.91 meters).
Some tressym had owl-like faces with tufts of fur at the points of their ears. The fingers of their wings could end in ornate feathers with circular designs rather like the "eyes" of a peacock's plumage. [note 1]
Combining the sensory abilities of the cat and the owl and a magical beast, the tressym was equipped with a number of natural and supernatural senses. First, they had the cat's native ability to find and follow a scent. To see in the dark, they possessed infravision or darkvision, as well as the ability to see in low-light conditions. Furthermore, they had the ability to sense invisible creatures and objects up to 90 feet (27 meters) away. Finally, through either taste, touch, or scent, they could also detect poisons that were harmful to the sentient folk of the world.
However, tressym were themselves immune to apparently every known kind of poison, suffering no ill effects whatsoever. This ability could not be conferred to other creatures, however.
Tressym had skills in stealth, climbing, balance, and alertness comparable to a regular cat, but were of course a little better at balancing and climbing owing to their wings. However, they didn't have nearly the same talent for jumping.
Their wings were not strong enough to carry great weights. They could not carry a halfling; if a halfling was falling, a tressym might strain to haul them up, and could do little more than slow, but not break, their fall.
Tressym were highly intelligent, being a little above average human intelligence. They could not speak human languages, but had their own language, "tressymspeak", which was based on purrs and growls. They were semi-wild, and most people thought of them as "mischievous little terrors", but otherwise tended to be shy and skittish.
They were often solitary creatures, rarely living or hunting with others of their kind, though did usually get along fine. Some bonded with individuals of other races, like elves and humans, forming close friendships. Stories told of heroic tressym sacrificing themselves to save beloved companions. Equally, they could have strong hatreds of those they disliked. They enjoyed teasing dogs (which could not give chase) but not to the point of danger. They ignored and left in peace birds (when not preying upon them), griffons, and other flying creatures. However, they were deadly rivals to stirges and manticores, to the point that packs of tressym would gather to combat them.
Like ordinary cats, tressym typically stalked and pounced on their prey, using their claws and fangs to slay it. However, the ability to fly gave them a new dimension to hunt in and made them much more dangerous to birds and insects. They could also get into aerial catfights.
Otherwise, they avoided fighting with anything larger than themselves, by flying away and hiding. If pursued by larger flying creature, then they would go to ground and seek a small hole or crevice to conceal themselves in.
They mated as often as regular cats, and did not mate for life. Tressym were closely related to the small feral cats that prowled the forests of the Heartlands, which had been domesticated across Faerûn, from the Sword Coast to Cormyr, the Dalelands, Sembia, and the Moonsea. Thus tressym could even mate with normal cats, with which they were fully fertile. However, on average, only 10% of mixed-bred kittens would be winged, while the rest were wingless.
Individual wild and domestic tressym could be found all over Faerûn, albeit very rarely. They only appeared to gather and breed in large numbers in northern Cormyr, mostly lairing in Starwater Gorge. Night and day, they hunted the fields for rodents, avoiding the local cats and dogs and not fighting or teasing them. Tressym were relatively common in the nearby village of Eveningstar, found prowling the streets and perched in the trees; Eveningstar was renowned for its tressym.
A clowder of wild tressym dwelled at the Leaves of Learning temple to Oghma in Highmoon in the Dalelands. Cormyrian traders had brought them from Eveningstar to Deepingdale to sell in the High Market, but the winged cats escaped and flew to the temple. They laired in the temple's Inner Court, becoming beloved companions to the priests and monks. They were allowed free access to the kitchen and pantry to hunt rats and mice. The tressym would alert the temple staff if they spied a visitor acting suspiciously or a thief climbing over the walls.
There were a number of tressym in the city of Ankhapur on the Lake of Steam, in southern Faerûn. Curiously, on the day before Highsummer each year, every tressym in the city mysteriously disappeared and only returned three days later.
In Eveningstar, tressym were highly appreciated by both the villagers and the local farmers for their control of rodents in the fields. Folk saw them as mascots and good luck signs, and fed them and gave them free run of the village. while trying to limit their vandalism and airborne catfights. Mages regularly came to Eveningstar seeking a tressym as a familiar, but the locals tried to stop large-scale and magical trapping of them.
Ghostwise halflings viewed tressym as emblematic of stealth and cunning. Ghostwise mages sometimes chose them as familiars, and on occasion a druid adopted one as animal companion. They also occasionally became pets or companions of clan matriarchs or patriarchs.
Druids who dwelt in harsh desert wastelands could also bond with a tressym as a companion animal.
A number of deities and their religions were strongly associated with tressym. Prime among these was Sharess, goddess of cats, and Lurue, goddess of intelligent animals, as well as Cyrrollalee, the halfling goddess of friendship, and the elven deities Aerdrie Faenya, goddess of air and flight; Erevan Ilesere, god of mischief; and Hanali Celanil, goddess of love. Tressym could be the servants of these deities, or were sent by them as signs of their favor, or could even be sacred to their faith.
Tressym were sometimes kept as familiars by wizards and sorcerers. They needed to be experienced mages capable of bonding with a more advanced creature, and the tressym would only accept a good-hearted master. As familiars, tressym combined the senses of cat and owl, and furthermore were intelligent enough for many more tasks, being able to carry and operate complicated and delicate items to the limit of their capability, to fully observe and report on events, to concentrate on activities without distractions, and to safely identify poisons and toxic gases.
Thus many mages, particularly good ones, sought out tressym, often coming to Eveningstar to find them. Two mages living in Eveningstar kept tressym as familiars, Maea Dulgussir and Lord Tessaril Winter herself. Tessaril's familiar accompanied her often, either perched upon her shoulder and circling her feet with many purrs. The tressym served as her unofficial food taster, insisting on sampling everything she ate and drank, which saved Tessaril from poisoning no less than six times.
Apart from familiars, tressym made for popular pets. Calishite humans, who enjoyed exotic, magical pets, were drawn to tressym, among other magical beasts. Chondathan humans, particularly in Cormyr, favored felines and so especially appreciated tressym.
Although a tressym's immunity to poisons reportedly could not be conferred upon other creatures, the tongue of a tressym was nevertheless an important component of treatments against poison. In 1372 DR, in the village of Hilltop in the Silver Marches, when Drogan Droganson was stricken by a poison that could not be healed by normal means, the Harper Ayala Windspear requested his pupil fetch tressym tongue, charcoal, and helmthorn berries from the herbalist Farghan. The subsequent concoction helped, but did not heal, Drogan.
However, it wasn't until the Year of the Tressym, 1263 DR, that they became widespread in Faerûn. As the name of the year suggested, this had been foretold by Alaundo the Seer himself, writing in the Year of Clinging Death, 75 DR.
The sorceress Tsarra Chaadren acquired a tressym familiar around 1364 DR, but even after a decade of bonding with him, he did not tell her his name. Lady Laeral Silverhand took to calling the winged cat "Nameless", which the cat didn't mind. Nameless had a jet-black coat and mismatched eyes, one blue eye and one green.
- Flycatcher, the animal companion of Vordana Jezral, a ranger who roamed the Savage Frontier.
- Nameless, the familiar of Tsarra Chaadren.
- Rillix, the pet tressym of the Xelbrin family from Nightstone.
- Slobberchops, a tressym who begrudgingly belonged to the Vanthampur family of Baldur's Gate, but paid them no loyalty.
- Goldheart, a self appointed companion of the half-elf Larajin.
The tressym is likely based on the winged cat of cryptozoology, where certain cats are observed to apparently possess wings, either born with them or grown later in life. These "wings" tend to flap up and down as the cat runs, and are said to help the cat run faster or jump further and, rarely, fly. In medieval Christianity, demons were sometimes depicted as bat-winged cats, as both animals were associated with the Devil.
However, most winged cat cases have perfectly natural causes. The most common is a severe case of matting, in which the fur forms wide felted mats that may resemble wings. Another is a deformity, feline cutaneous asthenia, in which the cat's skin turns elastic and stretches, giving the appearance of wings on the back, haunches, or shoulders; these often may even be moved by the cat and sometimes tear off. Rarely, a winged cat's wings might be a conjoined twin or be additional limbs. Less natural causes are that a winged cat specimen may in fact be a fraud or fake, such as a stuffed union of bird and cat.
- Though tressym are well described in text, these owl- and peacock-like features only appear in 2nd edition artwork.
- The tressym was originally classified as an ordinary animal in Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition, but this was changed to a magical beast with an update to v.3.5 and in Lost Empires of Faerûn. This also added an array of new vision types for the tressym. However, the update mistakenly attributed the tressym to Monsters of Faerûn, rather than the Campaign Setting.
- Haunted Halls of Eveningstar • Storm King's Thunder • Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus
- Star of Cursrah • The Halls of Stormweather • Heirs of Prophecy • Crown of Fire • Blackstaff • Swords of Eveningstar
- Referenced only
- The Temptation of Elminster • Elminster in Myth Drannor
- Comic Books
- Infernal Tides 1 • Infernal Tides 2
- Video Games
- Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
- Organized Play & Licensed Adventures
- Breath of the Yellow Rose • A Great Upheaval
- Board Games
- CLUE: Dungeons & Dragons
- James Wyatt (March 2000). “Animal Henchmen”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #269 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 29.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the following links do not necessarily represent the views of the editors of this wiki, nor does any lore presented necessarily adhere to established canon.
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- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 152. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
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- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 84. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
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