Neverwinter: The Year of Deep Water Drifting
Red Wizards of Thay
It is not possible to understand the Red Wizards of Thay without understanding the nation they are from.
Beneath skies of ash and cinder lies the broken landscape of Thay. A forbidding place, much of Thay consists of badlands, deserts, rugged mountains, cinder cones, and active volcanoes that belch forth plumes of toxic steam and rain flaming debris on the lands below.
Under the tyrannical rule of Szass Tam, the undead are the masters of Thay. Where life exists, it suffers terribly in the form of slaves, playthings, and chattel to be sacrificed, sold, or remade into undead thralls.
Hardship and deprivation define existence in Thay. Undead roam the land, twitching legions of rotten flesh that wait for the day when the lich-lord sends them forth in the name of conquest. Slavers prowl ruined cities, searching for fresh meat to sell on the auction blocks, while roaming bands of gnolls scour the rugged countryside for sacrifices to offer up to their masters.
The nation of Thay sprawls across a great plateau, thrust up from the ground. Its sharply defined borders are ragged ruins, tumbling falls of stone and debris where the raw earth bleeds poisonous gas and rivers of lava. The roads are lined with traitors who have been left to rot in crow cages or impaled on great spikes, their bodies writhing in agony as fell necromantic energy transforms them into dutiful servants. Rising above it all is the fiery Thaymount, a spine of broken peaks and volcanoes that ride the devastated landscape and house the lord of darkness – Szass Tam himself.
Undead are the most numerous creatures in Thay, but the region also contains a fair number of gnolls, orcs, and humans. None of them has much love for the others, but all fear the wrath of the Citadel – the principal fortress of Szass Tam – enough to set aside their petty squabbles. They all fill a variety of roles, from wretched slaves and gladiators to selling their lives cheaply in the ranks of the Dread Legions.
Among the humans, the lowest classes — the labourers, farmers, and slaves — are almost wholly of
Rashemi stock (from the nation of Rashemen to the north), whereas the ranking aristocracy, including the infamous Red Wizards, consists almost exclusively of the Mulan peoples. Rashemi slaves cleave to the same sorts of customs and beliefs found among their kin in other lands.
The Mulan humans are distinctive, being tall and slim, with sallow skin and no hair anywhere on their bodies. It is their custom to remove body hair and replace it with intricate tattoos depicting dragons and, more commonly, various fiends.
One can also find tieflings, dwarves, halflings, and other races in Thay, but in almost every case, they serve as slaves. Their fate is grim and their lives short.
As most would expect, a land such as this produces cruel masters and the Red Wizards of Thay are the true masters of their land. Most favour spells of necromancy in emulation of their leader Szass Tam, and to better deal with the undead that are allowed to plague their land. As already noted, they are easily identified by their lack of hair, their numerous tattoos but also by their ubiqitous red robes. Only Red Wizards are allowed to wear red in the land of Thay.
They are not to be confused with the Red Wizard mercantilists – such as those of Vellgard Manor – although this faction of Red Wizards began as Thayan Red Wizards before the Spellplague.
The Red Wizards are known to control a fortress of absolute evil – the Dread Ring – in the southern Neverwinter Wood and some 20 or so miles east of Helm’s Hold. They reportedly clash frequently with the Netherese and are further thought to be responsible for the majority of undead encountered in the ’Wood.
The Thayans are also reported to have a presence in the Neverdeath cemetery from where they gather bodies for animation as undead. As Castle Never also has many undead in its grounds, the Red Wizards are also thought to have a presence there as well as to be responsible for the presence of such evil.
The PCs discovered – from speaking with the ghost of Rorn the Bear – that the Red Wizards were responsible for the disappearance of the bones of the thunderbeast from Morgur’s Mound, an important totem of the Uthgardt Barbarians. Griemolt Maur has declared that he is on a quest to recover these bones, particularly as they have been used as evil magic items to control the now-defeated Blacktooth Wererats.