The Morag Tong is a secret society within the continent of Tamriel, and is based in—and largely operationally restricted to—the Province of Morrowind and the island of Solstheim. Interestingly, in order to accord with Imperial law relating to Guilds and Fraternal Organizations, all official documents, including Writs, making reference to the Tong must use the name "Morag Tong Guild" to indicate the legal status of the organization. As "Tong" means guild in the Dunmer language, the usage "Morag Tong Guild" translates to "Forester's Guild Guild." They worship the Daedric Prince Mephala.
The Morag Tong is quite unique in Tamriel, as it is the only legally sanctioned organization for assassins. It was said to have been founded by the Daedric Prince Mephala. In Dunmeri legends, she teaches the early Chimer nomads, who were emigrating from Summerset Isles, how to evade their adversaries and destroy them with conspiracy and secret plots of murder, his/her "sphere of influence" upon Morrowind being conspiracies and secrets. A small faction of Chimer continued to adhere to these principles, and, thus, the Morag Tong was born.
As a means of resolving conflicts of such a grievous nature between Chimer groups that no other course of action was appropriate, the Chimer were to approach the Morag Tong and offer money for an "honorable execution". Because of its official sanction, the Morag Tong has the authority to print legal bills known as "Writs of Execution," which excuse a guild agent of all legal misgiving associated with any Morag Tong related business. These writs are to be presented to any arresting guard or soldier, and immediately and completely absolve the assassin for the murder. As such, Morag Tong executioners are expected to give themselves up immediately following an execution even if the death itself would have remained a mystery, in order to legally absolve themselves and avert any possible long-term ramifications. Executioners who fail to do so are considered suspect by their order and may be subject to major internal investigations, as the Morag Tong does not harbor criminals. Note also that other crimes committed in the completion of an assignment are not excused by a writ — for example, theft or secondary killings.
The Splintering of the Morag Tong
Although the Morag Tong is a society of murder and assassination, they have strict internal laws and ways of governing themselves. Early in the history of the order a splinter group broke away, calling itself The Dark Brotherhood, who turned from the original intent of the society: to prevent massive bloodshed with selectively calculated killings. The Brotherhood transformed into a "death cult," turning from the original worship of the patron Mephala to the worship of Sithis, the avatar of death. Their matron became the Night Mother, an old woman supposed to be fervently loyal to their Dread Father, Sithis. Their murders were no longer motivated by altruism; they were not even motivated by money. They frequently abducted innocents, whose souls served as sacrifices in Daedric and Necromantic ceremonies.
Since its creation, to the outside world, the people of Morrowind, the Morag Tong has become less of a sacred institution and more of a secularized enterprise of revenge. This is largely because of the Dunmeri abandonment of Daedra worship. The Morag Tong resents this fact, still taking its role as upholder of traditional Dunmeri law very seriously, and feels, on the whole, that its services are undervalued: anyone with a minor grievance and enough wealth can order the murder of another person because the Morag Tong, taking their traditional role as the impartial middle-man, is always obliged to accept the contract.
Although the Morag Tong is largely restricted to activity within Morrowind Province, due to the fact that no other Imperial governments recognize them as a legal faction, this does not mean that fleeing Morrowind will protect a target. Tong executioners have been known to track their prey all across Tamriel, thanks in part to an extensive network of informants and contacts maintained by the Guild. For example, the Mehrunes' Razor (Plug-in) for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion offers a chance to encounter a Morag Tong Assassin who has been captured while hunting a target in Cyrodiil. However, the Dark Brotherhood has a monopoly on illegal assassination outside of Morrowind, and Brotherhood assassins have been known to abduct Tong agents wherever they find them.
Splintering and reorganisation
During the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Dragonborn learns from Ravyn Imyan, that the Morag Tong was dissolved after the eruption of Red Mountain in the Fourth Era. They apparently made a pact to eventually reunite somewhere in Tamriel, but Ravyn states he does not believe it to be anytime soon. Despite this, however, the events of Dragonborn prove that the Morag Tong has been reformed somewhere between the Red Year and 4E 201.
Joining the Morag Tong
In Oblivion, there is one appearance of the Morag Tong. During the "Unearthing Mehrunes' Razor" quest, an assassin of the Morag Tong can be encountered. He has a set of unique armor that can only be acquired here.
The Morag Tong make a reappearance in the add-on The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn during the side quest "Served Cold" in which they are encountered as enemies. The Morag Tong may also be met as a random encounter with one of them carrying a Writ of Execution with the Dragonborn's name on it as a member of an illegal organization, i.e., The Dark Brotherhood.
The Elder Scrolls Online
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the Nerevarine is able to do work for the Morag Tong. This is done through the Writs of Execution given to the Nerevarine by the quest-giver in their guild hall of sorts, which is found in the Arena Canalworks of Vivec.
- Many people in the world of The Elder Scrolls believe the Dark Brotherhood and Morag Tong to be the same thing; despite both being assassin organizations, this is not the case. In fact, both factions are actually rivals. The original members of the Dark Brotherhood broke off from the Morag Tong very early on. It is said that the Night Mother herself was a member of the Morag Tong.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn
- The Elder Scrolls Online