Tayschrenn [Tay-shren] was the Imperial High Mage of the Malazan Empire and answered directly to Empress Laseen. Among the Malazan citizenry, he was seen as the Empress' left hand, and as someone who acted behind the scenes to assure the health of the empire.
He was described as having a long, drawn mahogany-tanned face that appeared oddly seamless, bland even, with ageless skin and a straight slash of mouth. His eyes were sunken, dark and black-ringed and the brown pate of his head was shaven but for a long braided queue at his shoulder. Tayschrenn's hands were long-fingered.
- 1 In Gardens of the Moon
- 2 In Deadhouse Gates
- 3 In Memories of Ice
- 4 In House of Chains
- 5 In The Bonehunters
- 6 In Reaper's Gale
- 7 In Night of Knives
- 8 In Return of the Crimson Guard
- 9 In Orb Sceptre Throne
- 10 In Deadhouse Landing
- 11 In Kellanved's Reach
- 12 History
- 13 Trivia
- 14 Quotes
- 15 Notes and references
In Gardens of the Moon
Tayschrenn sent Bellurdan to the city of Genabaris to research newly found scrolls of Gothos' Folly. The mage was to look for references to the location of the barrow of a Jaghut Tyrant near Darujhistan.
The Siege of Pale
Said to be acting under orders from the Empress herself, Tayschrenn went to Pale which High Fist Dujek Onearm and the Malaz 2nd Army had been besieging for three years. The High Mage coordinated a magical attack on Moon's Spawn, the Skykeep defending the city, and its guardian, Anomander Rake, a wielder of the Elder magic of Kurald Galain. For Tayschrenn's first attack, he raised his arms and sent a wave of golden flame rolling upward, which grew as it raced towards Moon's Spawn and scattered the thousands of Great Ravens who had taken residence there. This provoked a counterattack by Rake. From that point on, the sorcerous battle became an exchange of devastating attacks. Tayschrenn's efforts at defecting Rake's attacks often caused soldiers of the Malaz 2nd and 6th to be hit instead, decimating both forces. To Hairlock and Tattersail it also seemed Tayschrenn was betraying his accompanying mages by attacking them with his own magic resulting in devastating injuries for Hairlock, death for Calot, and the dismemberment of Nightchill at the hands of a Kenryll'ah demon. Anomander Rake later told Baruk that the deployment of demons by Tayschrenn against his own companions had baffled him initially and that he (Rake) wasted power destroying them.
After the Siege
Days later, Tayschrenn commanded Tattersail to perform a reading of the Deck of Dragons for him as his own efforts had been thwarted. During the reading it transpired that his block was due to Oponn and that the Lady regarded the High Mage with disgust. Prior to the reading, Tayschrenn told Tattersail that he knew of her meeting with the Bridgeburners immediately after the battle.
Tayschrenn arrived soon after Tattersail was injured by a Hound of Shadow who had tracked Hairlock to her abode, but by then she had slipped into unconsciousness and so Tayschrenn was unable to find out what had happened. However, according to Hairlock, Tayschrenn had become suspicious and sent out his servants to search the Warrens for answers. It was his opinion that the High Mage knew that Quick Ben's squad was involved. Quick Ben charged Hairlock with finding out about Tayschrenn's plans.
Tayschrenn found himself in conflict with Dujek when he tried to implement the Empire's normal policies in Pale regarding conquered peoples. His attempts to cull the nobility were forestalled when the city's census records burned. Tayschrenn doubted Dujek's claims that the fire had been an accident. Adjunct Lorn chastised the mage for treating Dujek as an enemy and traitor to the Empire and ordered him to abandon any plans for retribution. She also upbraided him for the attack on Moon's Spawn, saying that if the Empress had known that his attack would be so unsubtle she would never have agreed to it. Tayschrenn admitted that the task the Empress had assigned him on Genabackis weighed heavily and did not make use of his strengths. Lorn refused his request for dismissal.
Their conflict came to a head when Dujek's agents intercepted a Claw carrying a message for Tayschrenn. The handwritten letter from the Empress ordered the High Mage to arrest and execute Dujek.
During the events of the Gedderone Fête in Darujhistan, Lorn released one of Tayschrenn's demons, the Lord of Galayn, against Anomander Rake. When Rake killed the creature, Tayschrenn let out a scream in Pale and fell into a coma.
In Deadhouse Gates
Kalam Mekhar traveled to Malaz City to make the Empress pay for a list of crimes which included her betrayal of Dujek and the Bridgeburners. When he finally confronted her, the Empress informed the Bridgeburner assassin that the revolt of the 2nd Army had been a ruse orchestrated by Dujek himself. The Fist recognised the growing threat of the Pannion Domin, but knew his troops could not handle the problem alone. So the outlawing of Dujek provide him an opportunity to make allies of his enemies in order to fight the common foe. Tayschrenn was in on the plot as well, serving as Dujek's "Shaved Knuckle in the Hole". The Empress said the decimation of the Bridgeburners was not intended and called the High Mage's other efforts on Genabackis misguided.
In Memories of Ice
The "renegade" Dujek allied with his former enemies, Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake, against the Pannion Domin. Tayschrenn accompanied Onearm's Host, posing as the standard bearer, Artanthos. As Artanthos, he appeared a young man, nondescript but watchful. The child Silverfox sensed he was not what he appeared and said, "Artanthos... He's not used that name in a long time". Only Dujek initially knew his true identity, although Whiskeyjack suspected Tayschrenn was somewhere nearby. Some among the Host suspected he was a top-ranking Claw.
By the time the alliance lifted the Pannion Siege of Capustan, Whiskeyjack was aware of Artanthos' true identity. He cryptically alluded to the fact that someone within their camp served as the Empress' "knife at our throats", making sure her wishes were followed.
Dujek later attempted to correct Whiskeyjack's understanding of Tayschrenn's activities at Pale. The High Mage had been grooming Tattersail to be the Master of the Deck in preparation for confronting the Crippled God, but the Empress' plans began falling apart when the Bridgeburners were decimated at Pale. Tayschrenn had positioned the Bridgeburners in the tunnels to protect them, never guessing they would collapse. Further, he had not launched the sorcerous attack that had destroyed the Malazan mage cadre. High Mage A'Karonys had discovered Nightchill's ambition to seize Rake's sword, Dragnipur, and reported it to Tayschrenn. Not realising Nightchill's true identity, Tayschrenn did not act on this information until after she had ambushed and killed A'Karonys. Tayschrenn then slayed her in turn causing his plan to take down Moon's Spawn to fail. Dujek called the debacle at Pale and Tattersail's subsequent death two of the worst foul-ups in Malazan history. Dujek told Whiskeyjack that Tayschrenn hoped to offer his apologies to the Bridgeburner at the proper time.
He was present, as Artanthos, at Whiskeyjack's side during the Siege of Coral, the final battle of the Pannion War. Kallor's unexpected betrayal caught him offguard and Whiskeyjack was dead and Korlat severely wounded before he could respond with his own attack of sorcerous gold fire. Kallor was forced to call for the Crippled God's aid and flee via Warren without claiming the life of Silverfox. Kallor's attack had torn the flesh of Tayschrenn's disguise, and recognising him, Korlat berated him, saying he had not intervened in time to prevent the death of Whiskeyjack because of ulterior motives. But Korlat soon saw that Tayschrenn truly was devastated, and, from the way he had been hurt by the magical onslaught, that he had not held anything back. She told Silverfox that she should thank the High Mage for saving her life.
Afterwards, Tayschrenn took command of Whiskeyjack's troops and launched a magical bombardment against the city of Coral. He sent golden waves of High Telas against the tops of city walls to blast them apart as well as the Pannion mages atop them. But his power was quickly exhausted. Only the sudden appearance of an army of T'lan Ay and Moon's Spawn saved the day for the alliance.
At the battle's end, Tayschrenn traveled by Warren to the ships of the Malazan imperial delegation in Coral Bay. He returned with Aragan to begin negotiations with Rake for the future of the city.
In House of Chains
At the conclusion of the Pannion War, Tayschrenn was visited by Topper. The High Mage and the Clawmaster proceeded to get drunk after sharing the latest news of the war. Tayschrenn attested to seeing the bodies of the Bridgeburners interred within Moon's Spawn. Tayschrenn elevated Quick Ben to High Mage and sent him ahead to assist Adjunct Tavore Paran and the Malaz 14th Army. Meanwhile he and Dujek crossed the ocean by ship to Ehrlitan with Onearm's Host.
In The Bonehunters
Tayschrenn and Dujek secretly travelled to the camp of the Malaz 14th Army to meet with Kalam Mekhar and newly promoted High Mage Quick Ben. Tayschrenn was accompanied by two bodyguards, the aged Seti, Hattar, whom Kalam recognised from the days of the Emperor, and the much younger Kiska. During their discussions, Tayschrenn found out that far from being a High Mage for the first time, Quick Ben had been the true identity of Kribalah Rule, also known as Rule the Rude, a High Mage in the Blackdog Campaign under the old Emperor. In that guise he had saved Tayschrenn from Tiste Andii assassin-mages before apparently dying in a horrible conflagration. Tayschrenn had lost an object containing a demon lord at the time — the very same demon that was later killed by the sword of Anomander Rake. Tayschrenn and the others left after a few hours, but their arrival had been observed by Laseen's spy, Pearl, and Bottle. Adjunct Tavore also made it clear she was aware of the clandestine meeting, much to Quick Ben's chagrin.
Tayschrenn eventually returned to Malaz City where he took occupancy of the east tower in Mock's Hold. Mallick Rel and his Black Glove sought to isolate the High Mage as they struggled for power with the Empress, and blocked all communication between the tower and the outside world. Banaschar, a former colleague of Tayschrenn's in the cult of D'rek was desperate to speak with the High Mage. He had learned that the goddess had slain her entire priesthood after they sided with the Crippled God for the promise of the power of blood—only ex-priests Banaschar and Tayschrenn still lived. Banaschar hoped to gain access to fragments of Gothos' Folly concerning the cult's origins which he believed Tayschrenn had stolen during his flight from Kartool. He also hoped to persuade the High Mage to lead a reformation of the world's religions as the war among the gods would only lead to more bloodshed among their worshippers. But all of Banaschar's letters were intercepted, Mallick Rel marked him for assassination.
The 14th Army came to Malaz City so that Adjunct Tavore could meet with Empress Laseen in Mock's Hold. Mallick Rel inflamed the city against her troops and the meeting did not go well when the Adjunct learned both Mallick and Korbolo Dom had been elevated to positions of power by the Empress. When the Empress required the Adjunct to turn over her loyal Wickan and Khundryl troops over to the mob as scapegoats for failures in Seven Cities, the Adjunct took her army renegade and more than a thousand people, as well as several hundred Claws, died in the city. All the while, Tayschrenn remained aloof in his tower.
Shadowthrone came to visit Tayschrenn after the 14th Army fled by ship. He castigated the High Mage for the failure of his schemes with Quick Ben and Kalam. The Empress was on shifting sands, a Jhistal priest walked unfettered in the corridors of power, the Claw were infiltrated and decimated, and the Emperor's Wickans were assailed. Tayschrenn argued he took the long view on such matters and it soon became clear that the High Mage had not been as isolated as his enemies believed. He revealed that he was he was fully aware of Banaschar's inquiries and was still a full member of the D'rek cult. When the goddess had attempted to slay him, Tayschrenn "talked her out of it." Shadowthrone startled Tayschrenn with his knowledge that the High Mage had agreed to be Quick Ben's Shaved Knuckle in the Hole. The High Mage told Shadowthrone not to worry for his Wickans because they had Nil, Nether, and Temul to guide them. As the god turned to leave Tayschrenn to the empire's "nest of vipers", Tayschrenn asked him to convey his greetings to Cotillion and pondered the fate of Kalam, now in the Deadhouse.
In Reaper's Gale
Ruminating on the state of the Malazan Empire after the events at Malaz City, Banaschar thought that only someone with a simplistic world view would think that Tayschrenn was free to act without constraints on his ambition. Instead, the machinations of politics had a way of binding even the most powerful. He wondered if D'rek's tragic actions in the war of the gods had affected the High Mage as much as they had affected himself.
In Night of Knives
In 1154 BS, Tayschrenn made haste for Malaz City by message cutter, arriving on the night of the Shadow Moon. He entered the city with Hattar and a squad of bodyguards to meet with the scholar Oleg Vikat. Vikat claimed Emperor Kellanved had stolen his work regarding the Shadow Warren and planned to use the conjunction of the Shadow Moon to ascend along with Dancer and claim ownership of Shadow. Tayschrenn was dismissive of Oleg's claims.
Nevertheless, the High Mage was soon drawn into the night's high stakes clash between competing interests. Two of his bodyguards were slain by Dancer's Shadow cultists at Mossy Tors Park. Then Tayschrenn was approached by Kiska, the self-styled Imperial agent, who requested his aid on the part of the witch Agayla and who once again delivered Oleg's predictions of doom. Identifying himself only as Artan [Ar-tan], Tayschrenn had Hattar bind the young woman to keep her from following them to Mock's Hold where Surly awaited Kellanved and Dancer.
At the Imperial keep, Tayschrenn walked into a war between the Claw and Kellanved's Bridgeburner supporters, losing another bodyguard in the process. He was rejoined by a persistent Kiska shortly before meeting Dancer. Tayschrenn was careful to pledge his neutrality in the coming conflict, stating that his concern was for the Empire. He did not interfere in the confrontation between Surly and Kellanved and Dancer that apparently left only Surly alive.
Afterwards, Tayschrenn joined Obo and Agayla in their fight against the Stormriders, shocked by the power displayed by the unearthly sea demons. Though suspicious of him, Obo acquiesced, allowing Tayschrenn to help them.
Weakened by the fight against the Stormriders, Tayschrenn was late to the night's final conflict at the Deadhouse. He fell wounded in battle against the Jaghut Jhenna before being rescued by Hattar. The next day, impressed by Kiska's persistence and promising raw talent, he brought her back with him to the Imperial capital at Unta.
A haggard, sunken eyed, greasy lank haired Tayschrenn refused to interfere in the Crimson Guard's attack on Unta when confronted by Cowl. Instead he offered words of philosophy leading Cowl to think the once mighty High Mage's mind had been claimed by "twisted Gnostic innards of theurgy." He left Tayschrenn in disgust.
Despite his distaste at intervening in "petty squabbles" over succession, he was later forced into action during the Battle of the Plains, when Yathengar opened a rent into Chaos. In the duel that followed, both of them were pulled into the portal, which afterwards collapsed.
In Orb Sceptre Throne
Tayschrenn ended up on the Shores of Creation. He had had his memory wiped clean, and since he was inured to the corroding and acidic effects of the Vitr, he was able to pull creatures out of the Vitr, helped by Korus. He had been named Then-aj-Ehliel by Maker and this was the name he knew himself by.
He met the former Claw assassin Kiska and her travelling companion Leoman on the First Shore, who had traveled all the way to find him. Before they had a chance to talk, Then-aj-Ehliel was forced to fight Yathengar who had followed Kiska and who was unaware of his foes memory loss. Then-aj-Ehliel, fighting without magic, eventually managed to dip the mad mage in the Vitr and Yathengar after some time succumbed to it although it is unclear if it meant his death. Speaking with Kiska, Then-aj-Ehliel told her that he had no memory of her nor wished to return to his old life whatever it might have been and he asked her to leave.
Giving up, Kiska restored Tayschrenn's memories inadvertently as they were saying good-bye when she gave him an object that had been given to her by T'riss which was supposed to be his. Tayschrenn now found himself completely changed, and harrowed by his actions of his previous life.
- "'I mean I was – am – Thenaj still. Just as I am also Tayschrenn. And I find that I was everything Thenaj loathed. Yet I am both still. And now I must choose who to be.'"
Kiska and Tayschrenn then headed back out of the Shores of Creation, and back to Kartool, where Tayschrenn met D'rek. Arriving in Darujhistan under K'rul's Bar and Temple, he assumed the powers of the dying Elder God K'rul, becoming the Elder God T'renn.
In Deadhouse Landing
When Tayschrenn had been but a young child, he had been abandoned to the streets of Kartool City. Ithell, the Demidrek of the Kartool cult of D'rek, came upon the lad and "plucked [him] from the streets" and took him to the temple compound where Tayschrenn was raised to adulthood. Tayschrenn had no memories of his life before being abandoned and so considered Ithell to have treated him like a father. Besides Tayschrenn's close relationship with Ithell, the young priest had only two real friends: Koarsden Taneth a fellow priest; and Silla Leansath a fellow priestess. Tayschrenn was not interested in making other friends or in socializing in general, preferring to spend most of the time alone absorbed in his inner thoughts and deep reflection.
The cult's teachers taught the child mastery of Telas, the Warren of fire. Tayschrenn's amazingly early prowess and accomplishments enabled the boy to out-master his teachers before he was ten years old. Tayschrenn was soon self-directing his own studies and he eventually developed into an extremely powerful mage widely famous amongst D'rek adherents. Tayschrenn's chosen field of priestly study was the "immanency of D'rek" [see Immanence]. He developed into a high-ranking priest of D'rek and remained a favorite of Ithell during the Demidrek's lifetime.
Tayschrenn, as did all of the full priests and priestesses of the cult of D'rek, had a completely shaved scalp and eyebrows and wore a loose dark robe. When the young priest had been appointed by Ithell, four years before, to be his administrative assistant and secretary - a prestigious position - Tayschrenn was given a crimson sash to wear as a mark of his standing within the cult. Upon Ithell's death, however, Tayschrenn had to relinquish this position as well as the red sash.
[To Be Continued]
In Kellanved's Reach
Tayschrenn had been one of Kellanved's family, the group of people who had coalesced around Kellanved and Dancer to conquer Malaz Island from Mock the pirate and form the Malazan Empire. He had been a renegade High Sceptre of the D'rek Cult when he found his way to Malaz City.
In a 2020 interview, author Steven Erikson confirmed that the apostrophe in the T'renn name served a similar function as in the language of the T'lan Imass. It is an indication of past tense and "a case of a personality coming to an end and a new one taking its place. A kind of spiritual or emotional resurrection, as well."
- "Dujek Onearm and his army awaited the arrival of Caladan Brood and his allies: the fell Tiste Andii, Barghast clans from the far north, a half-score mercenary contingents, and the plains-dwelling Rhivi. There, on the still raw killing ground outside the city of Pale, the two forces would meet. Not to wage war, but to carve from bitter history, peace. Neither Dujek nor Brood, nor anyone else among their legendary company, could have anticipated the ensuing clash - not of swords, but of worlds…"
- ―"Confessions of Artanthos"
- "The streets are crowded with lies these days."
- ―High Mage Tayschrenn, Empress Laseen’s Coronation. Recorded by Imperial Historian Duiker
- "I have stretched myself further than I have ever dared before probing onward ahead into the possibilities of what might come. I have glimpsed things that both terrify and exult. [...] And so, the question then follows, what course of action should I take in the present? Which steps might lead to all that which terrifies, which steps might lead to all that which exults? The answer is of course that I cannot know for certain. Thus I am held back from all choice. Total awareness, my friend, results in paralysis."
- "Poor Tayschrenn. One day you will wake up and abandon this petty politicking and manoeuvring. It will burn you so many times, and you will scald so many others before you discover wisdom."
Notes and references
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 18, US HC p.348
- Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.xiii
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.681
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.66
- Night of Knives, Chapter 3, US PB p.136-137
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.63
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.71
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.71
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.74
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.74-78/80/81
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 6, UK MMPB p.214
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.91/92
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.108
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.108-111
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.261-263
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, US HC p.214
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 24, US HC p.480
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 24, US HC p.479
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.578-579
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 24
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.93/95
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.108
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.381
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.617-618
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.771-773
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.894-89/9028
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.920/923/933-936
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.947/969
- House of Chains, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.418-419/424
- House of Chains, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.427
- House of Chains, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.793
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.124-126
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.104
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.140
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.195
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.850
- The Bonehunters, Epilogue, US SFBC p.981
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.756
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.756-759
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.848
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.897-907/950
- The Bonehunters, Epilogue, US SFBC p.981-984
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 16, US HC p.465
- Night of Knives, Chapter 2, UK HB p.53-54/64
- Night of Knives, Chapter 3, UK HB p.141
- Night of Knives, Chapter 3, UK HB p.111
- Night of Knives, Chapter 3, UK HB p.138-142
- Night of Knives, Chapter 4, UK HB p.180
- Night of Knives, Chapter 5, UK HB p.198
- Night of Knives, Chapter 5, UK HB p.203-209
- Night of Knives, Chapter 5, UK HB p.219-223
- Night of Knives, Chapter 5, US PB p.247
- Night of Knives, Epilogue, US PB p.269
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 2, UK PB p.290
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 3, UK PB p.651-657
- Orb Sceptre Throne, Prologue
- Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 1
- Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 9, UK lg. PB p.367-371
- Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 14, UK lg. PB p.582/583
- Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 16, UK lg. PB p.618/619
- Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 18
- Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 21
- Orb Sceptre Throne, Epilogue
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 4, US TPB p.69-70/72-73
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 6, US TPB p.122-123
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 2, US TPB p.27
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 4, US TPB p.72-73
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 4, US TPB p.68/73
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 6, US TPB p.122-123
- House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.247-248
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.67-69
- Deadhouse Landing, Dramatis Personae
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, UK MMPB p.752
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.102
- Gardens of the Moon - Chatting with Steven Erikson, part 2 - See 2:08:30
|Members of Kellanved's Family|
|The Originals||Kellanved • Dancer • Dujek • Amaron • Hawl • Nok|
|Expanded Family||Cartharon Crust • Dassem Ultor • Duiker • Surly (Laseen) • Tayschrenn • Toc the Elder • Urko Crust|