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The Zhentarim (pronounced: /zˈhɛntɑːrɪm/ z-HENT-ah-rim) were a mercenary company who, over their 200 years of existence, experienced several leaps and bounds in terms of successes, but also several major defeats. As of 1479 DR, they were a shadow of their former glory, but still an organization of great power and influence.
Founded in 1261 DR in Zhentil Keep by Manshoon, the Zhentarim were originally created for Manshoon's ambitions for expansion. Fzoul Chembryl joined in 1263 DR and was able to dispose of the high-ranking priests and convert low-ranking priests to the cause of Bane. In the organization's first thirty years, they were able to assemble mages dubbed the Black Cloaks. Manshoon offset the possible threat of Fzoul by concocting a plan with the beholder Xantriph. The two had the Banite priests swear fealty to Manshoon and confess to their sins. Xantriph's lair, in what used to be Teshendale, became a base for Zhentilar patrols. It was around this time that the Zhentarim would finally begin to live up to their original purpose.
Manshoon's first order of business was capturing the Citadel of the Raven, which lost him the chance to get the city of Phlan. The citadel garnered much wealth for Manshoon and brought him economic superiority. Manshoon then had the Zhentarim contribute to the army that attacked Mulmaster. In order to enter the Western Heartlands, Manshoon seized the fortress of Darkhold from the Lich-Queen Varalla.
Their successes with the Citadel of the Raven and Darkhold were followed by attacks on Teshendale and Hillsfar, giving them the entire Tesh Valley and Voonlar. They then placed their own rulers in Daggerdale and Shadowdale, allowing Manshoon to consolidate his rule over all Zhent lands in 1337 DR by declaring himself the High Lord of Zhentil Keep. Their actions caused their neighbors to grow wary of them.
In the months following, however, Jyordhan, puppet ruler of Shadowdale, was assassinated by Khelben Arunsun, Xantriph was killed by the Knights of Myth Drannor and Malyk, the puppet ruler of Daggerdale, was overthrown by Randal Morn. Manshoon betrayed his allies in the Citadel of the Raven, taking it over by sheer force, and placed Kandar Milinal in charge. This eventually led to civil war in the Zhent city of Yûlash.
Despite setbacks, the Zhentarim were able to set up a secret base in Scardale while the nations of Cormyr and Sembia were busy fighting. It was in vain, however, as all influence in Shadowdale was expunged by the Knights of Myth Drannor. The Zhentarim went through more troubles until the coincidental Time of Troubles in 1358 DR when the avatar of Bane ordered Manshoon's apprentice Sememmon to attack Shadowdale. The attack failed and Bane was killed, throwing its religious aspects into chaos.Cyric converted many Zhentarim Banites and controlled the center of Zhentarim power, but Manshoon relocated the remaining Banites to the Citadel of the Raven and Darkhold. Cyric was eventually undermined by a divine conspiracy involving High Lord Fzoul. The larger northern half of Zhentil Keep was left in ruins as a result. Some 1,500 Zhentilar and Zhentarim, many of whom were high-ranking officers, and all the orc troops fled the city. Fzoul and Lord Orgauth defeated Manshoon and Sememmon, killing Manshoon in 1370 DR.
Manshoon lived on through clone bodies. Of these, one returned to the Zhentarim, conceded all leadership to Fzoul, and worked as an agent. When Bane was resurrected in 1372 DR, Fzoul became an expansionist, but was threatened by the reemergence of Myth Drannor. His paranoia lead him to attack Myth Drannor and Shadowdale, which he temporarily controlled. A Zhent named Karne attempted to take over the Onyx Tower, but the plan ultimately failed. Fzoul engaged in a hopeless alliance with the phaerimm, which enraged the Shadovar. The Netherese destroyed Zhentil Keep and the Citadel of the Raven, killing both Fzoul and the Manshoon clone, leaving only Darkhold left.
The Zhentarim was again taken over by the forces of Cyric, who engaged in battle with the forces of Bane. In 1420 DR, an evil mage named Rezlus took over the Banites and attempted to conquer Daggerdale. He failed and the Banites fell with only the forces of Cyric remaining. By 1434 DR, the final Manshoon clone raised an army of undead and took refuge in the citadel of Stormwatch. From there, he retook the Zhentarim, with Darkhold and Stormwatch as their only bases. The Zhentarim were reduced to nothing more than mercenaries hoping to re-achieve their former glory and take any contract as long as it had good pay.
Post Bane Re-emergenceEdit
After 1372 DR, the Zhentarim followed a strict linear hierarchy with Fzoul Chembryl at the head of the organization. He had several subordinates that reported directly to him. Each of those "Lords" had many underlings that handled reports and requests. The Zhentarim did not typically skip ranks in the hierarchy. The only exception to this rule was Manshoon who had permission to use any of the resources of the Zhents as he saw fit. Here is a short list of major figures at this time:
- Fzoul Chembryl: High Lord of the Zhentarim
- Scyllua Darkhope: Castellan of Zhentil Keep
- Kandar Milinal: Lord of the Citadel of the Raven
- Manshoon: Autonomous
- Selfaril Uoumdolphin: High Blade of Mulmaster
- Buorstag Hlammythyl: The Bron of Voonlar
- Darik Berkstan: Leader of the "protectorate" of Yûlash
- Zerana Hellesk: Military leader of Teshwave
- Teldorn Darkhope: Lord of Mintar
- The Pereghost: Commander of Darkhold
- Dhamir Ercals: Co-leader of Darkhold
- Kara Chermosk: Leader of the Tethyamar Fortress
- Verblen: Slave Lord of Zhentil Keep
- Angus Materi: Captain of the Outriders of Darkhold
- Captain Cvaal Daoran: Leader of the Brothers of the Black Fist
- Mara Kalaliv: Leader the Order of the Iron Gauntlet
- Xulla: Caravan Lord of the Zhentarim
- Fzoul Chembryl
- Scyllua Darkhope
- Lord Orgauth)
- The Pereghost
- Teldorn Darkhope
- Jamna Gleamsilver
Areas of ActivityEdit
The Citadel of the Raven was a chain of interconnected fortresses straddling the Dragonspine Mountains. It was intended to stop any possible invasions from either The Ride or Thar. The Zhentarim stole it from the other Moonsea powers in 1355 DR before making it their new headquarters in 1370 DR.
In a joint venture with Cormyr, Sembia, and the other Dalelands states, the Zhentarim sponsored a peacekeeping force in Scardale after Lashan Aumersair attempted to conquer the area. Support for the troops was withdrawn soon after they arrived in 1357 DR though they remained in the Dale for at least another decade.
In 1374 DR, on Nightal 15, under the cover of darkness, an army of Zhentarim, led by Scyllua Darkhope, invaded Shadowdale with assistance from the Church of Shar and House Dhuurniv. It was only a few months before the citizens of Shadowdale, led by Azalar Falconhand, overthrew the occupiers.
It was believed the organization sent some of its older members to the frontier nations of The North, such as the Silver Marches, to act under the guise of families who bought up land to live a peaceful life as homesteaders until needed by their Zhentarim Lords.
The Sword CoastEdit
|This article or section is about elements from the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series of games.
Video games are considered canon unless they contradict content in some other Forgotten Realms publication.
Through Karne, the Zhentarim were a shadow organization that existed in Baldur's Gate and its surrounding areas. The Marsh of Chelimber was conquered by the Zhentarim through Karne and his lizardfolk servant, Sleyvas.
- A person from Zhentil Keep. Not all Zhents were members of the Zhentarim.
- A defunct term for the military of Zhentil Keep to distinguish them from members of the Zhentarim.
- This could refer to either the organization itself or members of the organization (it could be singular or plural).
- A grammatically incorrect term that would bring derision on the user, even in lands unfriendly to Zhents.
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- Ed Greenwood (June 1993). “The Everwinking Eye: The Schemes of the Zhentarim”. In Jean Rabe ed. Polyhedron #84 (TSR, Inc.), p. 19–20.
- Matt Chapman (2015-04-01). Player Factions: Our "Heroes"? (Web). In Matt Chapman ed. Dragon+ 1. Wizards of the Coast. p. 12. Retrieved on 2017-07-09.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 96. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 97–98. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 92. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
- ↑ Warning: book within boxed set not specified for Ruins of Zhentil Keep
- ↑ Wizards of the Coast (2014). Heroes Isteval. What is D&D?. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2014-12-09.
- ↑ Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 123. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
- ↑ Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 36. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 100. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 35. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
- ↑ Snowblind Studios (2001). Chris Avellone, Ezra Dreisbach, Ryan Geithman. Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Interplay.