Tamshar’s government is a meritocracy, with ascending ranks as follows: headman (in charge of a thorp or tiny village), low governor (overseeing a town or village), governor (overseeing a large town or city), and the Grand Marshal, who is the head of the Tamsharn government. The honorific titles of “landknight” and “duke” are given respectively to those of low governor or governor rank who were war heroes raised to their posts.
Tamsharns practice an explicitly casual approach to “noble” titles; the “duke” of a sizeable town is given the same title given the very highest-ranking nobles apart from King in most other, more feudal governments. To the Tamsharns, though, “duke” is a title associated with war — the difference between a low governor and a landknight, or a governor and a duke, is that the landknight and duke have the equivalent of a war hero’s record. No additional power comes from the change in title, simply battle prestige. Though both rise to their position based on merit (blood inheritance of titles is not favored), to the Tamsharn mentality, there will always be that differentiation between a person who earned his post fairly in peacetime and a person who earned his post fairly and has also shed blood for his country. It’s not a matter of prejudice against a governor or low governor, but it is often a point of pride to have a landknight or duke looking after you.
The spouse of a duke or duchess is referred to as a “duke consort” or “duchess consort.” In practice, sometimes the distinction is blurred; in Tor’s Gate, everyone tends to refer to Vanera as “the Duchess” instead of the “Duchess Consort”; Vanera also fought in the Stonebreaker war and a few minor postwar conflicts alongside her husband, although it was magic she used and not weapons. Although she was not raised to rank, the people of Tor’s Gate generally see her as a duchess proper in all but title anyway — or maybe the distinction is simply lost.
Tamshar’s military forces are overseen by five Lord Marshals: the North Marshal, the River Marshal, the West Marshal, the South Marshal and the East Marshal. Each one is in control of the armed forces of one portion of the realm. Some of these duties are augmented further; the West Marshal has command of more troops than most, owing to the Ossenland border, the South Marshal also acts as commander of the Tamshar fleet, and the East Marshal is in charge of military intelligence.
In the cities, Tamshar cuisine is somewhat dependent on the goods traded with the other Realms. But in the countryside, more traditional fare tends to revolve around the grains of barley and rye, corn (particularly small-cob corn) and beans, and hard, strong cheeses. Cows and goats are both kept for milk and for meat. Local fruits include peaches and plums. The signature dish is tarba, a cornmeal pastry with a spicy goat-and-beans filling.
Tamshar In War
War and weapons are Tamshar’s most noted trade; the country does have other resources, but none so grimly fascinating. Although the Grey Hills are not as rich in ores as the Talonscars or Wyrm’s Teeth, the smiths of Tamshar use the metal mined there, along with imported iron from the Talonscars, to forge a signature steel that is more utilitarian than aesthetic. Tamsharn steel is a grayish, dull-looking metal, unlovely but strong. A quality Tamsharn blade is typically no lighter than a regular weapon, of gray steel with the faintest mottling, but difficult to bend or break. Tamsharn blades take a long time to sharpen, but hold their edge very well.
The spear and longsword are popular weapons with soldiers and mercenaries alike; straight-bladed swords of all sorts are also beloved of Tamsharns, and the bastard sword is often the mark of an elite warrior. Knife-fighting is more prevalent among the Tamsharn coast and the Lash River. However, many Tamsharn warriors experiment with unusual weapons or fighting styles in an effort to distinguish themselves. Such pioneers are often forced to make do with weapons of only moderate quality — most Tamsharn master smiths know swords and spears, but not pole-cleavers, spiked gauntlets or hook-chains.
There is little common pattern to the missile weapons prominent in Tamshar. The country is more famous for its infantry than its archers or crossbowmen, and most Tamsharns trained in a missile weapon learned their skills from a friend or relative, or possibly as part of training as a city guard, rather than from sheer cultural heritage. Bow schools are rare in Tamshar, as are bowyers of exceptional craft.
Tamshar’s infantry typically deploy wearing chain mail and steel helms with skirts of chain mail to cover the neck. Only the elite tend to wear armor heavier than chain-and-plate, and such armor is usually built for maximum efficiency rather than looks. Still, Tamsharn warriors do love their arms and armor, and custom-designed armor with engravings or design work meant to accentuate the wearer’s ferocity isn’t as uncommon as all that.