Forgotten Realms Pathfinder: Shadows of Faerun
Best known for the crimson-robed Red Wizards who rule the land with an iron fist; The land is ruled by a council of eight powerful mages known as Zulkir, each of whom specialized in a different school of magic Thay is a realm shrouded in mystery. Few outsiders have traveled extensively within its borders unless abducted and sold into a short life of slavery there: The Thayans who do talk about their homeland speak of it with such pride as to make most listeners doubt their amazing claims – were it not for the fact that these same rumors surface again and again from a dozen different sources.
The Thayans have endeavored constantly to expand their borders since they won their independence from Mulhorand in 922 DR. In fact, it was only twelve years after that momentous date that the Thayans launched their first invasion of Rashemen. The Thayans have been beaten back numerous times from both Aglarond and Rashemen, but though their armies failed to subjugate these realms, they still brought the Alaor, the Priador, the Sur and Umber vales, and the cities of the Wizards’ Reach under Thay’s control.
The borders of Thay have changed little since the conquest of the Wizards’ Reach fifteen years ago. The Red Wizards keep their armies at home these days, while their merchants have spread throughout the lands of the Inner Sea, selling valuable magic items in well protected concessions and Thayan enclaves. Rivers of gold, goods, and slaves pour into the zulkirs’ coffers from this expansion of Thayan trade. Szass Tam and his colleagues have come to understand that gold can conquer lands that resist swords and spells, and Thay’s monopoly on the manufacture and sale of magic items might be the weapon that brings the Red Wizards dominion over all Faerûn.
The country of Thay, once a large portion of the Mulhorandi Empire, extends from the borders of Thesk and Aglarond in the west to the Sunrise Mountains in the east. It stretches nearly 500 miles from north to south and 450 miles from east to west. Rashemen is directly to the north, across Lake Mulsantir, while the Alamber Sea arid Mulhorand form Thay’s southern edge.
Most of Thay consists of a great plateau almost 350 miles across. These arid tablelands are about 2,000 feet above sea level at the outer edges and slope up to an elevation of about 4,000 feet in the vicinity of Lake Thaylambar and the foothills of the Sunrise Mountains. The plateau’s southern, western, and northern borders are a band of broken cliffs and rugged canyons known as the First Escarpment. While few of these cliffs are more than a couple of hundred feet in height, the Escarpment rises on a dozen or so such precipices in the space of ten or fifteen miles, like the tiers of a wedding cake. A small party on foot can pick their way up the Escarpment over a day or two of difficult paths and short scrambles, but an army of any size is limited to a small number of passes and roads, which the Thayans guard well.
Atop the Plateau of Thay, the land consists of broad, rolling vistas broken by low mesas and chains of jagged rocks. Within its bounds rises the Ruthammar Plateau, a second, smaller plateau roughly 150 miles in diameter, which is more often referred to as the Thaymount (its most prominent feature) or High Thay. The Second Escarpment, a chain of cliffs and gorges even more forbidding than the First Escarpment, bounds High Thay. It averages almost 6,000 feet in elevation and is noticeably colder and more arid than the tablelands below
At the center of High Thay stand the volcanic peaks of Thaymount, in actuality a hundred-mile chain of fanglike ridges and smoldering cinder cones whose highest point is more than 17,000 feet high. In the youth of the world, basalt flows from these now-slumbering giants formed the mighty plateaus of Thay. While a number of people live in High Thay, few settlements stand close to the peaks of the Thaymount – minor eruptions are common, creating ash falls and clouds of sulfurous fumes that drift northeast, rendering a large area of the plateau virtually uninhabitable.
At the eastern edge of the country, amid the foothills of the Sunrise Mountains, rises a third series of cliffs – the Surague Escarpment. This forms a shelf atop the First Escarpment, and like the plateau of High Thay, averages about 6,000 feet in elevation. Numerous streams spill down from the heights of the Sunrise Mountains, creating a tangled maze of gorges and canyonlands in this corner of the country.
Just east of High Thay, near the eastern foot of the Second Escarpment, lies Lake Thaylambar. Fed by the River Surag, born of the snowmelts of the Sunrise Mountains, this deep, cold body of water is nearly eighty miles. across. Its outlet is the River Thay, which flows north to Lake Mulsantir near the Surmarsh. The Sunrise Mountains also give rise to two other great rivers – the Thazarim in the south and the Gauros in the north. The soot-covered glaciers of the Thaymount feed two more great rivers – the Umber, which flows west to Aglarond and the Sea of Dlurg, and the Lapendrar, with flows southwest through the Priador to meet the Wizards’ Reach at Escalant.
Thay is a naturally warm, dry land whose lofty elevation prevents the moisture laden winds from the Sea of Fallen Stars from bringing much precipitation to the interior. Never ones to be satisfied with their lot, the Red Wizards have created a network-of spells that maintains pleasant weather conditions all year round, This plays havoc with the weather in Thesk, but the Thayans do not concern themselves with the difficulties of their neighbors. The days are warm but not unpleasantly so. The plains are regularly soaked with rains, but only in the dead of night, just about every day in Thay is a fine one, in stark contrast to the miserable lives most people lead here. The weather spells ensure fine growing conditions for vast croplands, worked by the uncounted thousands of slaves upon whom the Thayan economy depends.