Lord Tharkul VI
Lord Tharkul Harkhalis VI (sometimes known by his official title: Horsemaster, High King of the Abandoned Lands, Exalted Orc, Lord and Ruler of the West) was king of the former nation of Glumpen from 591 Second Cycle (2C) until his death in 621 2C, which subsequently ended the Second Cycle.
Tharkul VI is best known today for his invasion and occupation of the Twilight Marsh, and the impact that has had on Orcish culture and history since. In most (even Orcish) cultures, he is remembered as a blindly militaristic dictator, responsible for the dissolution of Glumpen, but in some Orcish sects he is seen as a hero and champion of Orcish rights, which, before the Invasion, had still been largely under-appreciated.
Tharkul was born to Lord Tharkul Harkhalis V and Queen Girash III on October 10th, 2C 566. In Glumpenic tradition, he was raised from birth in preparation to be the next Glumpenic Lord, which included large amounts of training in martial combat and military strategics, but minimal schooling in international relations. Claims in regard to his personality vary widely, with Glumpenic sources accrediting Tharkul VI with strength and resolve, and non-Glumpenic sources regarding him as irresponsible and unsympathetic. Rumor exists that by the time he took the throne from his late father in 2C 591, he still was unable to locate Kultaakarr on a map (which has led to the popularity of “can’t find Kultaakarr” as an insult, meaning to indicate a person ignorant of either their worldly or immediate surroundings).
Tharkul VI inherited the throne in 2C 591 after his father’s death in a duel with Chief Orgaluk III. Tharkul VI immediately visited the Orgaluk tribe and brokered a truce by giving a lump sum from the Harkhalis treasury, a move that some equate to a bribe. He then began an aggressive recruiting and propaganda program, which lasted until his death in 2C 621.
Much of Tharkul’s rule was focused on funding and expanding Glumpen’s military capabilities. He cited often in speeches and edicts the historical repression of Orcish people, especially the Orcish origins of Vercian cities north of The Moonsea, such as Phlan and Gazzeth. Tharkul often equated political issues with racial issues, a move that was criticized for its myopia, but also praised for bringing to light the existing correlations between race and territory.
Invasion of the Twilight Marsh
During his famous military campaign into Vercian lands from 2C 615-621, Tharkul VI lived encamped with his soldiers, giving orders from there. He famously refused to leave the front despite exhaustion and his son’s sixteenth birthday, instead having him kidnapped and brought to the camp. Before his capture in Phlan in 2C 620, he further bolstered his reputation as an “unbeatable” warrior by personally fighting in numerous battles, including every day of the Siege of Phlan, which lasted two weeks.
Tharkul was captured during battle on the morning of the 14th day of his Siege of Phlan, at which point Vercian High Priest Marate Julienne attempted to broker a truce with Ankhalus I, who had been forced into stewardship by the capture.
Contrary to common Glumpenic and Orcish knowledge, Tharkul’s time in Phlan is well-documented by Vercian archivists. There are occasional references to scuffles with individual members of his security detail, but it would seem that his year in captivity was relatively comfortable. He did, however, remain sequestered from the world, not being allowed to send messages to Glumpenic leaders for fear of secretly giving martial orders. This has helped to spur criticisms from other nations, claiming that there is no proof that Tharkul was not mistreated during his time, but Vercy maintains that they treated him humanely.
After a year of failed negotiations and continued Glumpenic attacks on Vercian towns and villages, The International Council (minus any willing representatives from Glumpen) ruled during their annual Convenience in August 2C 621 that Tharkul IV was guilty of war crimes including Unlawful Loss of Life, Unlawful Invasion, and Genocide, the only punishment for the latter two being death. They also ordered that Glumpen be dissolved as a nation, removing its seat from the IC and declaring the beginning of a Third Cycle. High Priest Marate Julienne had Tharkul executed before she returned to Vercy from the ICC.
Tharkul remains a polemic figure in world history, with most remembering him as a dictator and others as a champion of Orcish liberation. The truth, however, is that he was largely both.