Tanakalian was the young Shield Anvil of the Perish Grey Helms and sworn to Fanderay and Togg, the Wolves of Winter.. He was described as fair-skinned and broad-shouldered with yellow hair, the colour of stalks of wheat, and eyes of a deep grey.
He wore the same blackened chain with grey cloak and distinctive iron helmet as the other Grey Helms.
After the Last Siege of Y'Ghatan, Adjunct Tavore Paran's Bonehunters embarked on Admiral Nok's Malazan Imperial Fleet to return to Quon Tali. On the western coast of the Catal Sea they encountered thirty-one Perish Thrones of War. A war-canoe bearing Shield Anvil Tanakalian, Mortal Sword Krughava, and Destriant Run'Thurvian crossed from the Perish fleet's flagship to the Froth Wolf, where Adjunct Tavore commanded. The Perish introduced themselves and related how they had repelled a fleet of Tiste Edur, destroying twenty ships at a cost of four of their own.
Run'Thurvian announced that they had been waiting for the Malazan fleet. Then Krughava drew her sword and held it horizontally against her own chest as she spoke before the Adjunct:
- "I am Krughava, Mortal Sword of the Grey Helms of the Perish, sworn to the Wolves of Winter. In solemn acceptance of all that shall soon come to pass, I pledge my army to your service, Adjunct Tavore Paran. Our complement: thirty-one Thrones of War. Thirteen thousand and seventy-nine brothers and sisters of the Order. Before us, Adjunct Tavore, awaits the end of the world. In the name of Togg and Fanderay, we shall fight until we die."
Tanakalian was considered a rather poor choice for the position by both Krughava and Run'Thurvian. The latter described him as "too young, woefully inexperienced, and dismayingly inclined to rash judgement".
Tanakalian was criticized as a Shield Anvil for being both young and unwilling to embrace unconditionally. He kept Destriant Run'Thurvian's vague dying warning of betrayal to himself to avoided spreading panic among the Grey Helms.
Tanakalian betrayed Krughava to become the sole leader of the Perish Grey Helms, denying embrace to all he found unworthy. He lead the Grey Helms to side with the Forkrul Assail to end humanity and bring about the rise of the wilds once again.