The Thalmor is the governing council of the Third Aldmeri Dominion, the union of Valenwood, the Summerset Isles, and the client states of Elsweyr. As explained by Delphine, the members of the Thalmor are "elven supremacists" who seek to end the Empire and eradicate the worship of Talos as it goes against their own beliefs. They claim sole responsibility for closing the Oblivion Gates in the Dominion (much like the An-Xileel). Although this is partly true, Martin Septim was the one who ended the Oblivion Crisis by destroying the Amulet of Kings and invoking the avatar of Akatosh.
Philosophy and traits
As a branch of the Aldmeri Dominion, the Thalmor seeks to unify the provinces of Tamriel through one-government leadership, with Elves holding all places of power. Deeply offended by Tiber Septim's victory in Valenwood, members of the Thalmor have sworn to root out Talos worship in the Empire. The signing of the White-Gold Concordat, which effectively ended the Third Aldmeri Dominion's war with the Empire of Cyrodiil, gave the Thalmor legal authority to eradicate Talos worship; although many devout believers either openly revolted or tried to circumvent their ban by worshipping in secret. The Thalmor would use lethal force, and even torture, to eradicate all Talos worshippers.
Origins and early history
Thalmor was the name of the provisional government set up by the Bosmer and the Altmer during the Second Aldmeri Dominion. Claiming the Summerset Isles for themselves, they renamed them Alinor in the Fourth Era. The Thalmor sought to unify the land, even before, along with parts of Hammerfell, to align it against seafaring threats that plagued the isles for centuries. The endeavor was thwarted by Tiber Septim and the "Brass God" of Dwemer origin. This sparked a deep-seated hatred for the Septim Dynasty and the man who apothesised into the deity, Talos.
The Oblivion Crisis and Fourth Era
Before the Oblivion Crisis, the Altmer organization that would become the Thalmor were little more than a loudmouthed fringe group mocked openly by Altmeri society. In the waning years of the Third Era, they led numerous boycotts of Imperial goods.
When the Oblivion gates began opening all over Tamriel, the Summerset Isles were thrown into anarchy. Refugees were slaughtered by the thousands. Those who tried to flee by boat found the Daedra had conjured storms to prevent escape and were cut down on the wharves and docks. Many were forced into the raging sea and drowned.
Towards the end of what would become forever known as, "The Oblivion Crisis", only the legendary Crystal Tower of the High Elves stood fast against the Daedric hordes. It was there they made their last stand, in the ensuing battle the Altmer Sorcerers and Archers killed so many Daedra that they scaled the walls over mounds of their own dead. It was not enough however, and the Crystal Tower fell, literally torn asunder by Daedric machines. In those final moments, the hordes of Daedra vanished completely.
Though many disputed the Thalmor's miraculous claims, one by one they had their reputations ruined by Thalmor perpetuated rumors and were exiled. Those who continued, even in exile were often assassinated. One such famous example was the great seer-mage Rynandor the Bold. He had commanded the defense of the Crystal Tower, and was considered a great hero of the Oblivion Crisis.
Potentate Ocato's murder began the Stormcrown Interregnum. The Elder Council fractured, leading into seven years of ruthless in-fighting, plots and backstabbing. With the Empire submerged in this mayhem, the Thalmor were quick to act. They overthrew the rightful Kings and Queens of the Altmer in a violent uprising.
Then the first of many pogroms descended on Summerset Isle. They slaughtered any who were not "of the blood of the Aldmer" as well as many remaining dissidents. The Thalmor never wasted an opportunity.
The newly empowered Thalmor reacquired Valenwood during the Fourth Era through a coup d'état, and the Former Confederacy of Elsweyr, shaken by political strife, became a protectorate of the new Aldmeri Dominion. The Thalmor's ambitions would not cease there however.
The Thalmor is also mentioned few times in Lord of Souls as the most dangerous enemy to the Mede Empire. Penitus Oculatus is responsible for gathering intel about their moves. Reports claim that Thalmor agents continued to harass the refugee communities in Sentinel and Balfiera, there were a series of murders in the latter which could be pretty confidently assigned to them. The pattern was typical, the victims were all of mixed blood or had associations considered unclean by the Aldmeri Dominion. The situation in Valenwood was much worse, the Empire's supplies no longer reliably got to the rebels there. According to Colin, there must have been a leak somewhere, the Thalmor knew too much about the Empire's movements. Sixty rebels were caught and executed in a week, along with four Penitus Oculatus agents.
The Great War
The Thalmor initiated the Great War against Cyrodiil during the reign of Titus Mede II, seeing the frailty of the ruling class and the office of Emperor, after the Elder Council had struggled for decades to place rulers on the throne. The war was vast and bloody. Ulfric Stormcloak, a Legionnaire in the Imperial Legion was imprisoned. After an interrogation by First Emissary Elenwen during the Aldmeri campaign of the Imperial City, Ulfric was eventually released, in the hope he might stir up unrest in the region thus destabilizing the Empire further. Four years of rampant bloodshed forced Mede II to sign the White-Gold Concordat, which included the removal of Talos from the Pantheon of Gods; the Nine Divines reduced to Eight.
Hammerfell and the Markarth Incident
At this time, the Thalmor unsuccessfully attempted to besiege Hammerfell, retreating after suffering extreme losses. With the Imperial Legions preoccupied by the continuing conflicts in Cyrodiil and Hammerfell, Ulfric Stormcloak was able to defeat the usurper Breton natives (known as the Reachmen) occupying The Reach in what came to be known as the "Markarth Incident". Ulfric asked only one promise as payment - agreement to permit the free worship of Talos in Markarth. After taking back Markarth, Jarl Hrolfdir initially kept his promise to Ulfric and allowed free worship of Talos, for a time. When the Imperial Legion arrived to restore the rule of law, Ulfric allegedly refused them entry into the city until they also agreed that free worship of Talos would be allowed. The Empire capitulated to Ulfric's demand but the Thalmor discovered this violation of the White-Gold Concordat and gave them an ultimatum - enforce the terms of their peace treaty and forbid the worship of Talos, or declare war against the Dominion. The Empire and Hrolfdir forsook their agreement to Ulfric and, caving into pressure from the Aldmeri Dominion, the Empire arrested Ulfric Stormcloak and his followers to enforce the ban on Talos worship stipulated by the White-Gold Concordat. Meanwhile, the Bretons stewed in anger at this defeat, vowing to retake the The Reach and renaming themselves the "Forsworn". After the Markarth incident, the Thalmor gained a foothold in Skyrim, as it sought to enforce the White-Gold Concordat.
Skyrim Civil War
By 4E 176, the Thalmor have had their agents, the Thalmor Justiciars, hunt down Talos worshipers and imprison them for violating the worship ban. From their embassy in Skyrim, they enforce the White-Gold Concordat and makes sure that the Empire doesn't break it again.
Secretly, they have been instigating conflict between the Empire and the rebel Stormcloaks, directly interfering only in certain instances to keep the Skyrim Civil War going. The Thalmor have also been hunting Delphine and any surviving members of the Blades who escaped eradication.
Role in Skyrim
Rooting out Talos worship
Active throughout Skyrim, the Dragonborn may have encountered them randomly in several ways. Initially, members of the Thalmor are non-hostile and will only attack when provoked or if the Dragonborn is wearing an amulet of Talos.
Thalmor patrols can be encountered along most of Skyrim's major roadways and usually consist of three Justiciars with two bodyguards and one Mage. A prisoner for interrogation may accompany the party to the Embassy. The prisoner can be freed by interacting with him and giving him weapons. After attacking a patrol, the Thalmor send another group of Thalmor agents to kill the Dragonborn.
College of Winterhold
An advisor named Ancano was sent to the College of Winterhold to oversee its studies. During his stay, Ancano attempts to absorb the power of the Eye of Magnus, killing Arch-Mage Savos Aren in the process. The Dragonborn, armed with the Staff of Magnus, ended the endeavor.
The Blades and the Dragon Crisis
Narrowly escaping the Thalmor during the Great War, Delphine, the last acting Grandmaster of the Blades hid at the Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood. There, she located and stole the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, hoping to lure the Dragonborn to her. With the Dragonborn's aid, she hoped to halt the resurrection of the Dragons. Suspecting the Thalmor of causing the Dragon Crisis and the return of Alduin, she sent the Dragonborn undercover to the Thalmor Embassy near Solitude. There, the Dragonborn learned that the Thalmor was not behind the return of the Dragons. Instead, the Dragonborn discovered that a Dragon Loremaster and Blade named Esbern was alive, hiding somewhere in Riften.
The Dragonborn freed Etienne Rarnis, returning to Delphine with the news. Traveling to Riften, the Dragonborn cooperated with the Thieves Guild and located Esbern in The Ratway Vaults beneath the city. After convincing Esbern to bring him to Delphine, the two were attacked by Thalmor agents. Reunited, Esbern, Delphine, and the Dragonborn reclaimed the lost Sky Haven Temple and plotted the destruction of Alduin.
Although not blatantly offering aid to either side, the Thalmor took a keen interest in the Civil War. They were more interested in weakening the morale of Skyrim and keeping the Empire divided than supporting either cause. Despite this, the Thalmor do indirectly aid the Stormcloaks by using their influence to stir or enable unrest against the Imperial Legion and the Imperial Legion makes use of them to imprison Stormcloak sympathizers. The Thalmor have a tangible presence in cities in which the Empire has the most secure foothold.
Relations with characters
Delphine was a target of the Thalmor during the Great War with the Empire. She was involved with several damaging operations within the Dominion before the Great War took place. Attempts on her life were planned prior to the Great War, but she was recalled before these could take place. During the war itself, she evaded three attempts on her life, during one of these attempts she killed the assassination team sent to kill her. Since then the Thalmor have been unable to gain direct information regarding her whereabouts. She is considered very dangerous and no move against her is to be made without an overwhelming force.
Esbern is believed to be have been behind some of the most damaging operations of the Blades prior to the Great War. Including the Falinesti Incident and the breach of the Blue River Prison. Esbern is to be captured in order to inform the Thalmor about the Dragons returning.
Ulfric Stormcloak first came to the Thalmor's attention during the Great War, when he got captured by the Dominion during their campaign for the White-Gold Tower. The Thalmor learned that he was the son of the Jarl of Windhelm and he was assigned to Elenwen. He was made to believe that the information he gave led to the fall of the Imperial City. Following this, he was allowed to escape. After the Great War, the Thalmor and Ulfric established direct and cooperative contact, following which he prove his worth as asset to the Thalmor. The so-called Markarth Incident resulted in the Thalmor being allowed into Skyrim to enforce the White-Gold Concordat, however, since it also imprisoned Ulfric he turned uncooperative.
Thalmor bases in Skyrim
- Thalmor Archer
- Thalmor Justiciar
- Thalmor Soldier
- Thalmor Wizard
- Northwatch Archer
- Northwatch Guard
- Northwatch Mage
- Northwatch Interrogator
- Elenwen – First Emissary
- Ancano – College advisor
- Ondolemar – Head Justiciar charged with enforcing the ban on Talos worship.
- Rulindil – Head Inquisitor in Skyrim and Third Emissary
- AncarionDR – Thalmor agent on a mission to acquire Stalhrim weaponry.
- Captain Valmir – Undercover Thalmor agent investigating Forelhost.
- Estormo – Thalmor agent reporting to Ancano.
- Agent Lorcalin – Thalmor agent hunting Talos worshippers.
- Agent Sanyon – Dead Thalmor agent killed while fighting Talos worshippers.
- Gissur – Though not an official member, he is a Thalmor informant found at the Thalmor Embassy during Diplomatic Immunity. If he is not killed there he can be found in The Ratway during A Cornered Rat.
- Shavari – A Khajiit spy working for the Thalmor found around the Riften market during A Cornered Rat and tasked with murdering the Dragonborn for their actions at the Embassy. When the Dragonborn first enters the city she will act as if she is a normal citizen. But when they leave the Ratway with Esbern she will turn hostile and attack. In combat with the Dragonborn she will say things like "Now you pay for meddling in the Thalmor's affairs!"
- J'datharr – A Khajiit assassin working for the Thalmor. He can be killed during the quest Find The Thalmor Assassin.
- An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City (mentioned only)
- An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends
- ↑ Runil's dialogue
- ↑ Generic Thalmor dialogue
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Aldmeri Dominion
- ↑ The Great War
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Valenwood
- ↑ An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, part one chapter three
- ↑ Dialogue with Esbern
- ↑ The Bear of Markarth
- ↑ Alvor's dialogue
- ↑ Dialogue between Thalmor Justiciars and Ondolemar
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Thalmor Dossier: Ulfric Stormcloak
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 Thalmor Dossier: Delphine
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 Thalmor Dossier: Esbern
- ↑ Missing in Action
- ↑ Flight from the Thalmor
- ↑ Dialogue with Alvor
- ↑ Dialogue with Thalmor Justiciars
- ↑ Dialogue with Elenwen
- ↑ Dialogue with Thalmor Justiciars
- ↑ An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City, Part two, Chapter 7