|Chronological and political information|
Mitth'raw'nuruodo, better known by his core name Thrawn (pronounced /Thråwn/), and misinterpreted as Mitthrawdo by Vicelord Siv Kav, was a male Chiss who served in the Imperial Navy and became the only non-Human Grand Admiral. He was regarded as the best military strategist in the navy, and despite the Empire's strict non-Human policies, rose to a position of power.
Thrawn served as an officer in the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force for many years in the Unknown Regions, where he demonstrated his brilliance. However, many of Thrawn's ways were contrary to that of Chiss society that reject offensive and preventive strikes. In 27 BBY, he first met Palpatine, then Darth Sidious, after having destroyed one of his private taskforces. However, they agreed with the threat posed by the Unknown Regions, and most notably the Yuuzhan Vong. This informal agreement was sealed by the destruction of the Republic exploration ship Outbound Flight by Thrawn and the death of many Jedi.
In the following years, the Chiss officer continued his preventive strikes and he was exiled on an uninhabited world far in the fringes of Chiss space. In 19 BBY, soon after the Declaration of a New Order, Thrawn was discovered by Imperial Navy officer Voss Parck, who brought him to Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine, who had already learned of Thrawn and knew of his command skills, approved his admission into the Empire. Over time, Thrawn climbed the Imperial ladder, and circa 2 ABY became the thirteenth Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy. The Chiss officer spent most of his time in fighting the Rebel Alliance and secretly exploring the Unknown Regions. Thrawn pacified the region where he established a powerful political and military government: the Empire of the Hand.
The Grand Admiral was in the Unknown Regions during the Battle of Endor, which saw the death of Palpatine, and remained there for several years. The Empire was on the verge of collapse four years later, when Thrawn returned. He took control of the remaining Imperial forces with a plan to crush the Rebellion, now the New Republic. Although the Chiss Grand Admiral was able to deal the New Republic several mighty blows in a massive campaign in 9 ABY, he was unable to destroy the fledgling government. Thrawn perished in the Battle of Bilbringi at the hand of Rukh, his Noghri bodyguard, who had recently learned that the Empire had betrayed his people. Though Thrawn was dead, he would be remembered as the genius tactician, consummate strategist, and Imperial leader who nearly brought down the New Republic.
- "We were both born as commoners. I can live that way again if I have to. But I'll do what I can to assure that the Eighth Family doesn't release or rematch you on my account."
Mitth'raw'nuruodo and his brother Mitth'ras'safis were born as commoners in the Chiss Ascendancy, a region of the Unknown Regions ruled by the Chiss. They lived their early years as simple members of Chiss society. When they were of age, they were both deemed worthy to become merit adoptives in the Mitth family, the eighth among the nine Ruling Families. While Thrass chose a political career, holding a status of Syndic, Thrawn was a clever military strategist and gained ranks fast among the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force.
In broad terms, this was a standard part of a military career path; but whereas most Chiss officers lost their Family affinity on leaving the military, Thrawn was designated as a trial-born of the Eighth Family. This additional status, apparently awarded in recognition of his personal ability, offered him a chance of permanent adoption into the family—a course also taken by his brother Mitth'ras'safis.
Commander of the Chiss Expansionary Fleet
- "I do not need permission to fight on their behalf."
By 27 BBY, Thrawn was the youngest ever Force Commander in the Expansionary Fleet, commanding a dozen small ships: Picket Force Two based near Crustai on the Ascendancy's frontier. While here, he became convinced that the long-term threat from the piratical Vagaari required more aggressive action than was countenanced under the rules of engagement laid down by the Defense Hierarchy.
During this time, Thrawn intervened in a skirmish between Progga the Hutt and the Corellian smuggling ship Bargain Hunter. Destroying the Hutt ship in a short fight, he impounded Bargain Hunter and her crew: Captain Dubrak Qennto, his partner and co-pilot Maris Ferasi, and navigator Jorj Car'das.
Over the next few weeks, the three Corellians remained largely with Thrawn aboard his command ship Springhawk, their status somewhere between that of prisoners of war, strategic pawns, and an unofficial cultural exchange. In this time, Car'das and Thrawn formed what seems to have been a lasting friendship, while there were some hints of romantic feelings between Thrawn and Ferasi. Car'das and Ferasi taught Thrawn Basic, and in turn, Thrawn taught Car'das and Ferasi the Chiss language, Cheunh and the trade language of Minnisiat.
Meanwhile, Thrawn's provocative actions fell under scrutiny from the Defense Hierarchy, the Mitth Family, and also the Chaf family. Indeed, Thrawn discovered during a patrol a large Vagaari fleet besieging the Geroon homeworld. The Chiss commander discovered that the Vagaari had managed to create gravity well projectors and used this technology in the battle. Thrawn noticed that one of them was relatively unprotected, and sought to steal it to obtain this useful technology for the Chiss. Thrawn willingly went against Chiss protocol and used a micro-jump in combination with the gravity field to accurately move to the projector and surprise the Vagaari. He engaged the enemy ships despite the fact they used living shields for defense and succeeded in taking the projector. However, he was severely injured in the battle, his life saved by Maris and Car'das.
Destruction of Outbound Flight
When he had recovered, Thrawn took his picket force to investigate the arrival of an unknown task force within the patrol area: these turned out to be a powerful Trade Federation battle squadron. The Neimoidian commander of the task force, Vicelord Siv Kav, arrogantly ordered his forces to wipe out the tiny Chiss fleet. However, with some technical advice from Car'das, coupled with his own innate tactical genius, Thrawn managed to take control of swarms of Trade Federation Vulture-class droid starfighters and devastate the fleet, leaving only the flagship Darkvenge intact, at which point the other expedition's leader, Kinman Doriana, sued Thrawn for parlay.
Seeing an opportunity where the Neimoidian did not, Doriana pleaded with Thrawn to let them carry out their original mission. He revealed to the Chiss he was sent by Sith Lord Darth Sidious to intercept and destroy the Outbound Flight, an expeditionary starship sent by the Galactic Republic to explore the Unknown Regions. Doriana gave Thrawn a negative account of the Jedi who led the expedition and introduced him to his master. Darth Sidious warned Thrawn of his concern that the expedition could fall into the hands of the threatening Yuuzhan Vong, then known only as Far Outsiders. This caught Thrawn's attention, as the Chiss had already turned back an incursion by those invaders. Thrawn appeared to take Sidious seriously, and agreed to help Doriana and Kav prevent the Outbound Flight journey, but not necessarily by destroying it.
When the Outbound Flight finally arrived in Chiss space, Thrawn was ready to intercept it. Negotiations between the Chiss Commander and Outbound Flight leader Jorus C'baoth failed, as the Jedi Master refused to return home or take another route out of the galaxy, while Thrawn maintained that he could not risk letting the Jedi come into contact with the Far Outsiders. As the two sides prepare for battle, the Vagaari battle fleet which Thrawn had previously stolen the gravity well projector emerged in the area.
Thrawn lured Outbound Flight into conflict with the Vagaari. As their fleet stormed towards the Outbound Flight, C'baoth performed a Force meld to trick the enemy. At that moment Thrawn launched his Vulture droids to engage the confused Vagaari, creating a large disturbance in the Force, while only a remnant of the Vagaari was able to escape. During the disturbance, C'baoth and his fellow Jedi failed to detect the Chiss forces that were sneaking in, and Thrawn managed to destroy all weapons of the Outbound Flight. Near the close of the battle, C'baoth gave into his anger and fell to the dark side, Force-choking Thrawn across space. Doriana saved Thrawn's life when he activated the secondary command layer pre-set in the Vulture droids. The final wave of fighters employed a radiation bomb of Chiss design on the ship, which resulted in all but fifty-seven of the 50,000 personnel aboard Outbound Flight being killed. However the ship itself was not completely destroyed.
A standoff then developed among the Chiss about the damaged exploration ship fate, with Aristocra Chaf'orm'bintrano who hoped to keep this technology for the exclusivity of the Chaf Family and Admiral Ar'alani of the Hierarchy who wanted to share it between all families. It was resolved when Syndic Thrass who had infiltrated the ship and Jedi Knight survivor Lorana Jinzler took Outbound Flight to hyperspace. The wreck crashed on a planetoid in a remote star cluster known as the Redoubt and was lost for almost fifty years. In spite of protestations from Chaf'orm'bintrano, Ar'alani ensured that Thrawn escaped with only informal censure. Although it was contrary to the official Chiss policy, the admiral was grateful for Thrawn's role in the destruction of the Vagaari fleet and the annihilation of this threat.
- "You are very clever, Commander. Someday that cleverness will turn against you."
- ―Siv Kav
However, if the Ascendancy's disapproval was expected to discourage Thrawn, they were sorely disappointed. Doriana had reported back to Sidious who made several overtures to the capable commander, but Thrawn could not honorably leave his post.
Almost ten years passed across the galaxy and Darth Sidious, known as the Republic Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, declared himself Emperor. The Republic was reorganized in a powerful Galactic Empire.
Thrawn continued making preemptive strikes against the Chiss enemies, and his career in the CEDF eventually ended circa 20 BBY. After attacking an enemy ground installation that was manufacturing weapons, Thrawn was sentenced to the traditional Chiss punishment of exile on an uninhabited jungle world, far in the outer fringes of known Chiss space. Many people among the Chiss, including some Thrawn's relatives such as Kres'ten'tarthi, thought he had decided to engineer his own downfall in order to leave the Chiss and join Sidious.
In 19 BBY, Imperial Captain Voss Parck of the Victory-class Star Destroyer Strikefast discovered Thrawn on a remote planetoid at the edge of the Outer Rim Territories near the Unknown Regions. By disabling Colonel Barris's force with primitive tools and traps, Thrawn impressed Parck. Thrawn insisted he return to his people to protect them, but was convinced by Parck that by offering his service to the Empire, he would be better equipped to do so. He even hinted that Palpatine might one day send Thrawn back to the Unknown Regions with the advanced technology and capabilities of the Empire. Convinced, Thrawn joined him and was brought to the Imperial capital Coruscant where he was recognized by Kinman Doriana, still serving Palpatine. Parck presented Thrawn in private audience to Emperor Palpatine. The Emperor recognized the potential of this Chiss warrior and decided to accept him in the Empire, aware that the Imperial anti-alien policies would keep him from becoming too ambitious.
Palpatine's Galactic Empire
The Imperial Academy
- "I've seen you work military miracles. I'm sure you can work political ones, as well."
- ―Kinman Doriana after the Outbound Flight incident.
Parck began training Thrawn, but the student quickly surpassed the master, and Thrawn engaged in a long period of private tutoring with the Empire's greatest minds. Thrawn climbed through the ranks of the Imperial Navy, much to the chagrin and in spite of the speciesism exhibited by many of its Human officers. Many Imperial officers who begrudged at serving with an alien changed their mind when they were confronted with Thrawn's genius.
Some years before the Battle of Yavin, Thrawn, now an Imperial officer, taught for a while at the Imperial Academy of Carida. His most promising cadet was Tyber Zann. However Zann was suspected of weapons theft by Thrawn, but since there was no concrete evidence to connect him to the crime he was only expelled. Tyber Zann considered this exclusion as an indignity and kept strong resentment against the Empire and the Chiss officer. Years later, Tyber Zann became a powerful crime lord, leader of the Zann Consortium.
The Unknown Regions
- "And then, what, arranged to have himself sent back here so he could make the Chiss ruling families pay for what they'd done to him?""
"Certainly not. He came back here to protect them."
- ―Voss Parck and Mara Jade
Thrawn rapidly attained command rank. Thrawn became a trusted commander in Palpatine's fold, even going so far as to refuse orders to engage in battles he deemed impossible to win on several occasions. The first time Thrawn did this Palpatine stripped him of his rank and sent another officer in his stead, but saw his loyal commander reinstated when the Imperial force was destroyed as Thrawn had predicted. After this, Palpatine gave Thrawn's opinion considerably more weight.
Sharing many ideas with the Emperor about the Unknown Regions, the Chiss was tasked with a mission to explore and pacify those as yet unexplored territories in order to destroy any threat and prevent any invasion, including Yuuzhan Vong.
Although Thrawn did not become a high-ranking officer before the Battle of Yavin, he began the exploration of the Unknown Regions early in his career. Using the vast resources of the Empire, Thrawn mapped and pacified great swaths of territory and he founded a powerful political and military state: the Empire of the Hand. Its capital was located on the Wild Space planet Nirauan where was built Thrawn's command-post and personal fortress, the Hand of Thrawn, circa 10 BBY. During his Imperial career, Thrawn spent much time secretly exploring the Unknown Regions.
Imperial garrisons, intelligence centers and listening posts were scattered all over the explored regions. Thrawn also forged a network of alliances with the native species and colonies which would develop into the Empire of the Hand. Indeed, Thrawn's empire was more a confederation than a true empire, with many different species among it. Even thought the connection with the Galactic Empire was kept for historical and psychological value, the Empire of the Hand didn't share with its most perverse aspects.
Thrawn also reestablished contact with the Chiss but the relations between the Empire of the Hand and the Chiss Ascendancy were more ambiguous. Many Chiss flocked to the Empire in order to receive protection from many of the threats in the Unknown Regions. Thrawn became a Syndic and rallied many Chiss warriors in his Household Phalanx. However, the Empire of the Hand was viewed with distrust by the Chiss Ruling Families, who considered Thrawn an outcast from Chiss society for a long time after his death. But agreeing with Thrawn's vision, many Chiss aristocrats unofficially supported Thrawn's actions.
High Imperial command
- Jerec: "Palpatine is not the only man in the galaxy who can command the Force."
- Thrawn: "But he is the only one who commands those who command it. For instance, he commands you, Lord Jerec."
- Jerec: "Mind your place you blue-skinned fool. With the Force I could crush you where you –" *chuckle* "Well done, Captain. Well done. It's not an easy task to make me lose my composure. You are indeed a formidable tactician."
- Thrawn: "Yes, sir."
- ―Jerec and Captain Thrawn [src]
Eight months after the Battle of Yavin Senior Captain Thrawn was commanding the Task Force Admonitor and leading a campaign against an alien warlord Nuso Esva, whose tactical brilliance rivaled that of Thrawn's. Esva's fleet also vastly outnumbered Thrawn's task force, who needed a minimum of six more Star Destroyers to combat the Firekilns Esva used as the capital ships of his navy. Together with his friend Jorj Car'das, Thrawn traveled to Endor to meet with Emperor Palpatine who advised the Chiss to speak with Darth Vader and present his request of additional Star Destroyers to the Sith Lord. After meeting with Vader Thrawn and Car'das used Car'das' freighter Lost Reef to shadow the Star Destroyer Chimaera, on board which Esva had taken residence under the false name of "Lord Odo".Through a complicate plot, which included a plan to assassinate Governor Bidor Ferrouz of Candoras sector and then blaming Rebellion for it, Esva lured Thrawn's forces into Poln system, where the warlord sabotaged Chimaera's systems setting the Star Destroyer on collision course with the Golan station protecting the capital planet Poln Major.
The destruction of valuable military equipment and a humiliating defeat in battle would have discredited Thrawn in the Imperial military and ruined his career, but using the Lost Reef and Chimaera's remaining tractor beam systems Thrawn was able to steer the Star Destroyer away from the Golan. When Esva saw Thrawn starting to break down his plan, the warlord ordered the rest of his Eastern Fleet to join the battle. Thrawn had anticipated this and answered by sending a message to Darth Vader and Death Squadron, which promptly jumped into system and proceeded to destroy Esva's forces. After the battle Thrawn helped Vader to analyze the equipment Rebellion had taken from a cache set up for them by Ferrouz as part of Esva's plan to ensure Rebel presence during his scheme. From the items Thrawn concluded that Rebels had chosen a barren, cold planet as their next base of operation, delivering this information to Vader and thus setting the Sith up to continue his search for the Rebel leadership.
In addition to his resounding victory over part of Esva's fleet there was other gains Thrawn made from the events of Poln system. His agent, Vaantaar, who had participated in Governor Ferrouz's protection on Poln Major, returned to Admonitor with one of Esva's Whisperlike-class starfighters and a group of five stormtrooper deserters, known as the Hand of Judgment. The Whisperlike gave Thrawn new insights into Esva's philosophy and starship designs, which he intended to exploit when he returned to the Unknown Regions to seize the advantage given by the destruction of Esva's Eastern Fleet. The five stormtroopers—Daric LaRone, Korlo Brightwater, Taxtro Grave, Saberan Marcross and Joak Quiller—who had been on the run from the Empire since their leader, LaRone, had killed an ISB major, had proved themselves to be capable warriors and, what was more important to Thrawn, open minded toward alien species. Instead of handing them over to ISB, Thrawn offered them a job in his fledgling Empire, asking them to train him a new strain of stormtroopers, who would be willing to accept other species among their ranks as well as humans. Having seen how Esva worked and what kinds of threats Thrawn fought against in the Unknown Regions, the Hand of Judgment accepted the offered job and decided to name their new unit as the 501st Legion.
A month later, Thrawn served as captain of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Vengeance. Palpatine stationed Thrawn there in order to "babysit" the ambitious Force-user High Inquisitor Jerec, who often used the Vengeance, and who Palpatine suspected might be trying to attain the position of Emperor. Thrawn also found time to pursue his own interests, and was on S'krrr to study the artistic merits of the Sikadian Garden when an outbreak of Drog beetles killed Vengeance officers Wolver and Tier. Thrawn investigated the killings, and as the outbreak spread, was later forced to work with the S'korr warrior-poet Sh'shak, a Shi'ido sentientologist named Mammon Hoole, and Hoole's two Alderaanian wards, Zak and Tash Arranda, in order to survive. Shortly after thoses events, ten months after Yavin, the Emperor promoted Captain Thrawn to Vice Admiral.
By 1.5 ABY, Thrawn had been assigned to the Emperor's Retreat on the planet Naboo where he assigned an experienced spacer (who had previously worked with Kaja Or'Zee, Inquisitor Loam Redge, and even Hethrir) with several tasks. The first was a simple escort job; the spacer was to escort Captain Dolman from his crashed spaceship back to the safety of the Emperor's Retreat. After this, he sent the individual to retrieve the black box. However, the individual soon discovered that it had already been taken by a thug. After killing the thug, the individual retrieved the box.
Because of the information retrieved from this box, it was discovered that there was in fact a Rebel base nearby which had a weapon capable of shooting down shuttles. The spacer was tasked with delivering the holodiscs recovered from the black box to a stormtrooper by the name of Geg Winthazen. Perhaps to test the spacer's skills, Thrawn's next task was to kill an adult Fambaa and retrieve a vial of blood for him (a hard task for a solo operative), followed by asking the individual to retrieve a paintbrush, for reasons unknown, from a lady on Naboo. Soon after this, however, he hired the individual to finally get some payback for Captain Dolman's shuttle crash, and sent the individual to infiltrate and eradicate a Rebel cell on the planet. Thrawn eventually left the Emperor's Retreat to continue his ascent in the Navy.
Few in the Empire guessed at Thrawn's true importance. Palpatine was using his most able commander to explore the Unknown Regions and nullify or exploit any potential threats he encountered. Moreover, at some stage before 2 ABY, he received a secret promotion to the rank of Grand Admiral, although this was known only to his direct subordinates and a few of Palpatine's most trusted agents, most notably Emperor's Hand Mara Jade, who served as the sole witness to the ceremony.
Political affairs and exile
- "Rumors later placed him in the Unknown Regions. An embarrassment, clearly, that the Emperor wanted hidden far away from Imperial Center."
- ―Soontir Fel
2 ABY was a busy year for Thrawn. Thrawn subsequently stayed on Coruscant and engaged in the politics that accompanied his new rank as vigorously as any battle. This inevitably brought Thrawn into conflict with Rufaan Tigellinus, a power hungry fellow Grand Admiral.
Thrawn's time on Coruscant was short lived. As Imperial courtiers closed in on him, the Chiss and Palpatine hatched a plot to satisfy both their long desire to continue the exploration of the Unknown Regions. Thrawn feigned defeat in the political battles and was sent away by Palpatine. He was given Captain Dagon Niriz's Imperial-class Star Destroyer Admonitor alongside the formally downgraded Voss Parck, now a commander, and set out on his mission.
Most of Admiral Thrawn's subordinates, such as Captain Niriz or General Larr Haverel were very unenthusiastic about this assignment. They felt dishonored and refused to see Thrawn's disgrace unfairly impact their careers. Their doubts about this alien officer increased strongly during their first mission. In Wild Space, they met the Ebruchi Creysis and his group of pirates. Thrawn put Parck and several soldiers at risk in a complex game of strategy against Creysis without informing his officers of the true depth of his plans. General Haverel mistook Thrawn's tactics for mistakes and, as the Chiss seemingly continued inactive, he suspected incompetence. He approached Captain Niriz, also deeply unsatisfied with Thrawn's performance, to seek support for removing Thrawn. Niriz was uneasy with the prospect of removing him from command, which he regarded as mutiny. Niriz intended to inform Thrawn of the issue, but was preempted when Haverel returned with six troopers and demanded the Admiral to hand over command to Niriz. Thrawn disagreed, and in a crucial moment, Niriz refused the general his support. As Haverel prepared to act anyway, Thrawn received what he had been waiting for: Creysis dispatched a courier to his superiors. Thrawn sprang into action, handily defeating Creysis' forces. He then took the Admonitor to Creysis's home base, ending efficiently the Ebruchi threat. Contrary to Captain Niriz, General Haverel had failed Thrawn's test of faith. He was sent back to Coruscant for court-martial.
During his time in the Unknown Regions, Thrawn and the Admonitor also waged a war with a mostly-primitive local species. He discovered that a military commander of that species had crafted three wooden statues with gem incrustations that had been acquired by Yarkora antiques dealer Saell-Terae. Thrawn, wanting to understand his enemy by studying their art, offered to buy the artworks from Saell-Terae, but the Yarkora refused. Saell-Terae eventually had to escape from Thrawn's forces and abandoned his ship, the Lost Reef, with the statues still hidden inside.
Admiral Thrawn also received support of other elements of the Imperial Navy, such as Captain Ferob's Victory-class Star Destroyer Iron Fist or Delak Krennel's Reckoning. Thrawn was once forced to order Ferob to bombard UR41-284, the homeworld of a sentient species that attempted to resist the Empire. On another hand, Krennel's ruthless and brutal methods were not adapted for Thrawn and he eventually returned to the Core in disgrace.
At the end of this period in the Unknown Regions, most of Thrawn's officers had understood that this assignment was not a political punishment but a true mission. Niriz and Parck decided to remain in the Unknown Regions and, excepted during Niriz's assistance of Thrawn in his next mission in the known galaxy, nobody would ever receive any news from them or the Admonitor for almost two decades.
Return to the known galaxy
- "I am Grand Admiral Thrawn, Warlord of the Empire, servant of the Emperor."
Grand Admiral Thrawn returned to the Core in 37:9, with his flagship Admonitor. The period that followed his return was the apex of his ascent in the Empire, and was highly publicized by NewsNets. Thrawn took quickly to appearing in the Emperor's Court and in public with Palpatine and other high-ranking dignitaries at significant publicized events such as the commissioning of Executor. Darth Vader's departure to accompany Death Squadron to the Outer Rim removed Grand Admiral Tigellinus's primary concern, allowing him to focus on Thrawn. But despite Tigellinus's efforts, Thrawn continued to climb the ranks of Coruscant society without the aid of strong political factions. On 11:13 of the same year, the Chiss was inducted into the elite Order of the Canted Circle by the Emperor's personal invitation and support.
In 2 ABY again, Thrawn conceived an elaborate plot to assist Darth Vader in his campaign against the Rebellion and Black Sun. The Admonitor intercepted the freighter Hopskip, carrying Rebel contraband. Its crew was not subjected to inspection, but was rather forced by Captain Niriz to take aboard Thrawn disguised as Jodo Kast, a bounty hunter in Mandalorian armor. They had to deliver a cargo to Corellia but the Mandalorian’s disconcerting instructions drew the attention of Black Sun and two Corellian Security officers: Hal and Corran Horn. The Horns, posing as traders, agreed to help the Hopskip but half of the crew and Hal Horn were soon captured by Black Sun criminals. Demonstrating his range of capabilities, Thrawn still impersonating Kast helped Corran free them and capture the Grand Admiral's target: crime lord Zekka Thyne. They were assisted by stormtroopers led by Colonel Maximilian Veers who ordered the attack of Thyne’s compound after have been tipped off that Thyne was harboring Rebel contraband. Thrawn later recommended the brilliant officer to Darth Vader.
The Hopskip crew was eventually freed to return to the space lanes, unaware that their original cargo has been fitted with Imperial tracking devices. The tracers finally led the Empire to a Rebel convoy near Derra IV. Grand Admiral Thrawn then worked with Vader in planning the Battle of Derra IV. While Vader presented the briefing to his troops, the strategy had been developed by Thrawn, as pilot Soontir Fel recognized that it did not have the trademark of the Dark Lord. Though the battle resulted in the destruction of the Rebel convoy and the Renegade Flight X-wing squadron for little loss, Thrawn received no official recognition for this success, and was instead quietly reassigned to less publicized campaigns as the Empire wanted such a potential "embarrassment" kept away from Imperial Center. Thrawn, however, did not ultimately go unrewarded. The capture of Thyne and the disruption in Black Sun operations in the Corellian system was meant to offend Black Sun leader Prince Xizor, and that pleased Darth Vader. He gave the Chiss control of the Noghri Death Commandos.
After a further brief sojourn in the Unknown Regions, Thrawn returned once again shortly after the Battle of Hoth, this time with the ostensible rank of Vice Admiral. He was tasked by Navy command with the duty of pacifying the Pakuuni sector, an area plagued with Rebel Alliance and pirate activity. Conducting the campaign from the Victory-class Star Destroyer Stalwart, he decisively crushed the insurgents and established the outpost NL-1 in the Pakuuni system to bring order to the region. While inspecting the station, Thrawn's craft came under attack from Rebels and pirates but they were driven off by TIE pilots, particularly Tan Maarek Stele.
Sometime during the Imperial occupation of Bespin, the Zann Consortium raided the planet and stole large quantities of tibanna gas. Thrawn's old student, Tyber Zann, planted evidences in the computer systems pointing to the Black Sun. This affair increased the tensions between Darth Vader and Prince Xizor but Grand Admiral Thrawn suspected a manipulation.
Soon after Xizor's death, Thrawn was sent to retrieve a Sith holocron from Tyber Zann in the Carida system. However, Zann expected a trap and brought a fleet with him. The battle ended with one of Zann's bounty hunter, Bossk, stealing the holocron and bringing it to the Grand Admiral. The Admonitor then fled the system with the valuable artifact, and left his fleet behind to finish Zann and his forces off. However, Tyber and his fleet managed to destroy Thrawn's forces thanks to the use of the newest Aggressor-class Star Destroyers. Zann escaped knowing that his lieutenant Urai Fen had placed a homing device on the holocron which he later used to lead him to one of the Emperor's storehouses on Coruscant.
Campaign against rogue Grand Admiral Zaarin
- "Yes, Emperor Palpatine. I have studied Zaarin's ways closely. He will not resist the bait that I have laid out for him. Soon, he too will meet his end."
- ―Grand Admiral Thrawn
Before long, Grand Admiral Demetrius Zaarin attempted a coup d'état against the Emperor in the Ottega system, using the TIE Defender starfighters he had developed for the Navy against loyalist forces. Responding in a timely manner with Vanguard, Thrawn managed to rescue Palpatine from capture near Imperial Center, with the assistance of Darth Vader and Maarek Stele.
The Emperor assigned Thrawn to deal with the traitorous Grand Admiral who wasted no time in striking out against loyalist Imperial facilities after his failed coup. Thrawn oversaw the evacuation of the TIE Avenger factories in the Omar system as they came under attack. During the same campaign, shortly after his forces captured Rebel Magnetic pulse technology, his flagship Sceltor was trapped by Zaarin's Interdictor Grappler, but Thrawn employed mag pulse warheads against it to make good his escape. After recovering the prototypes from Zaarin's TIE Defender research facility in the Parmel system, Thrawn developed the Missile Boat to counter the Defender. Leading his forces into the Eva-T system with Grey Wolf to battle the Rneekii and Nami pirates as well as Rebels and Zaarin's forces, Thrawn ended the potential proliferation of TIE Defender technology by destroying Ali Tarrak's factory. For his successes, Thrawn was officially appointed to Grand Admiral by the Emperor, taking the place vacated by Zaarin
After his promotion, Thrawn continued his efforts to pursue Zaarin. The two had skirmished for months, with the traitor's forces being slowly whittled down by the loyalists, but Zaarin was able to keep his flagship, Imperial-class Star Destroyer Glory, and therefore himself, unscathed. However, Thrawn knew that former Admiral's core weakness was his desire to possess new military technology, so he had an unstable cloaking device developed for the corvette Vorknkx. As predicted, Zaarin did put Glory in harm's way to seize the corvette, and thanks to a tracking device, loyalist forces were able to follow and surround the traitor's flagship. Zaarin fled the destruction of Glory in Vorknkx but the corvette exploded when it attempted a hyperspace jump, putting an end to the traitor once and for all. Upon witnessing Zaarin's death, Thrawn privately mused that this was the fate of all enemies of the Empire.
Fragmentation of an empire, pinnacle of another
- "The Unknown Regions are the future of the Empire."
- ―Thrawn, to Dagon Niriz
After Zaarin's death, Palpatine sent Thrawn back into the Unknown Regions one more time to continue his mapping mission. But shortly after his departure, the Rebel Alliance defeated the Empire at the Battle of Endor. Vader and the Emperor were killed in the battle. In the confusion of the Imperial defeat at Endor, the Rebellion never confirmed the existence of this newest Grand Admiral, and people who had known his existence thought he was simply dead.
The Chiss Grand Admiral returned to his Hand of Thrawn base. Just after the Battle of Endor, the Ssi-ruuk launched a series of incursions into the known galaxy, as well as near Chiss Space. Thrawn responded with preventive strikes on the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium. Following the invasion of Bakura, the Chiss Ascendancy and Thrawn's Empire of the Hand decimated the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium at Lwhekk. Thrawn later established strongholds against other more dire threats. At its greatest extent, the Empire of the Hand stretched across the equivalent of 250 sectors.
Despite the endeavors of succeeding Imperial leaders such as Grand Vizier Pestage, Director of Intelligence Ysanne Isard or the Imperial Ruling Council, the death of the Emperor at the Battle of Endor saw the New Order spiral into chaos. In the later years, the Rebellion, now known as the New Republic, had become the legitimate galactic government. But in the Unknown Regions, Thrawn had been kept apprised with disgust of the ongoing situation, as Ysanne Isard transferred officers such as ace Baron Soontir Fel and Major Wortin to his command. The Grand Admiral successfully convinced Fel to switch his allegiance back to the Empire of the Hand in which he later became an important officer. It was facilitated by the Imperial ace's view that the Admiral was an unprejudiced, non-oppressive leader, in contrast to the corrupt Empire of Palpatine or Isard.
In 8 ABY, Thrawn finally defeated and killed the warlord Nuso Esva at the Battle of Quethold. Nuso Esva had allied himself with the queen of Quethold, the Queen of the Red. Grand Admiral Thrawn planned an assault against them with the help of the Stromma, the inhabitant species of the planet Oristrom. But the Stromma were doubtful of the Empire's ability to win and eventually withdrew. Intelligence gathered from Quethold, particularly imagery of the artwork with which Esva had decorated his quarters, gave Thrawn what he needed to elaborate a strategy. Although Esva had purposely arranged the art on display to trick Thrawn, the Chiss managed to understand this ploy. Meanwhile, Nuso Esva’s action on Quethold made the alliance with the queen untrustworthy. At the end, the Empire of the Hand attacked the planet and when the battle began to turn against him, Esva killed the queen out of suspicion of betrayal. He was in turn shot down by the queen's soldiers.
Final return to the galaxy
Sometime after the fall of Coruscant, Thrawn traveled in person with his Noghri bodyguard Ovruk to the shipyard system of Sluis Van, then cautiously neutral in the ongoing Galactic Civil War. Although he arrived at the same time as a senatorial delegation from the New Republic, led by Baron Jonas Stern and the Bothan Borsk Fey'lya, Thrawn seems to have already regarded Sluis Van as lost to the Empire in diplomatic terms: his modest intention was to acquire a Star Destroyer under construction in the docks, and to gather intelligence in anticipation of a future military reconquest of the system.
In 8 ABY, four years after the Battle of Endor, the Chiss finally returned from the Unknown Regions to the Empire proper following the defeat of all the main Imperial leaders, particularly Isard and Grand Moff Zsinj. Voss Parck, now an admiral, became the acting leader of the Empire of the Hand. Thrawn transmitted a holographic message with authentic command codes to the venerable Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Chimaera by using the Emperor's private holopod of the ship, a communication system unused since the death of Palpatine. The Chimaera, under Captain Pellaeon's command, arrived to the meeting point at the edge of the Unknown Regions. There, Thrawn's shuttle docked with the Star Destroyer and met Pellaeon.
Thrawn picked the Chimaera as his flagship and made Pellaeon his de facto second-in-command. The Chiss took command of the remains of the fleet defeated at Endor, now reduced to a dozen Star Destroyers, and gathered other Imperial warships to his fleet. For six months, the Grand Admiral reorganized the fleet. He formed his personal armada of six Imperial-class Star Destroyers — the Chimaera, the Death's Head, the Inexorable, the Nemesis, the Judicator and the Stormhawk — judged fully loyal to Imperial Command.
After the fall of Isard's regime, the loyalist Imperial forces were ruled by the Moffs and the Imperial Ruling Council. Thrawn impressed the Imperial leaders by demonstrating his superior military talents and honest intentions to vanquish the New Republic. He earned the support of the powerful D'Asta family and its successful raids against pirates and the border regions of the New Republic space convinced that he was the perfect commander for the Imperial Military. He was given official control of the Imperial armed forces by Ars Dangor's Imperial Ruling Council, making him effectively Supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces.
One of Thrawn's first actions was an attempt to acquire the presumed-lost Alderaanian moss painting Killik Twilight at auction on Tatooine. Despite the escape of a New Republic party led by Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo and the destruction of a Rebel Alliance Shadowcast code key secretly contained in the painting, the Killik Twilight ended up in Thrawn's personal collection.
Thrawn's reorganization of loyal Imperial forces marigalized the Imperial warlords. However, the Grand Admiral contacted the main warlords — such as Grand Moff Ardus Kaine of the Pentastar Alignment and Prince-Admiral Delak Krennel of the Ciutric Hegemony — and asked them for joining him. Fearing coups, they agreed to give Thrawn command of a temporary military confederation. To keep this unity, Thrawn never tried to make this empire a single political entity and let all the Imperial leaders and warlords rule their territory in their own way. However, Teradoc, Harrsk and the other powerful Deep Core warlords refused to join the confederation.
While the Chiss's early actions impressed deeply the Imperial leaders, they were not sufficient to panic the new Republic.
- "But it was so artistically done."
- ―Thrawn's last words
Grand Admiral Thrawn's campaign against the "Rebellion" began in 9 ABY. The New Republic first suspicions came from several Imperial raids in the Borderland Regions, such as those at Draukyze and Saarn.
In the early stages of his campaign, Thrawn had some scout ships do an Imperial scan raid in the Obroa-skai Region. When the Elomin task force pursued and attacked the Chimaera, Thrawn then used a Marg Sabl maneuver on them and destroyed the task force. With information from the scan raid, Thrawn traveled to Wayland, where he acquired three items from Mount Tantiss, the Emperor's secret storehouse. These items were a cloaking device, a mad Jedi clone named Joruus C'baoth, and a "trivial piece of technology"—a full suite of Spaarti cloning cylinders.
Joruus C'baoth was the clone of the presumed dead Jedi Jorus C'baoth, who perished in Thrawn's destruction of Outbound Flight. In exchange for fighting for Thrawn, this mad Jedi demanded that Thrawn capture the unborn Solo twins so that he could raise them as his apprentices. With this clone, Thrawn was able to hit-and-run attacks that were 40% more efficient than ever at Bpfassh and First Battle of Nomad City. Thrawn was able to retrieve mole miners from Nomad city to help in his effort to get more ships.
Thrawn used the Spaarti cylinders to clone elite warriors by the tens of thousands, bolstering the conscripts on which the Empire was now forced to depend for much of its manpower. At the same time, he worked to replace the losses in matériel that the military had suffered in the years since Endor. Although he was thwarted in his attempt to capture a large number of New Republic ships from Sluis Van, Thrawn's leadership saw the Empire's own shipyards increase production once again, and he was able to recover 178 of the 200 Dreadnaught-class cruisers of the Katana fleet before the New Republic forces could.
Thrawn used his tactical skills to effectively employ his forces in a series of decisive victories, causing a deep wound to the New Republic. The successes of Thrawn's campaign bolstered waning Imperial morale and temporarily ceased the squabbling of Imperial warlords, a problem that had plagued the Empire since the death of Palpatine. Using his cloaking device to good effect, Thrawn blockaded Coruscant with cloaked asteroids and scored victory after victory. Thrawn then sent C'boath back to Wayland, since Thrawn saw that C'boath was losing his mind.
Thrawn, after hearing reports from Wayland, died during the climactic Battle of Bilbringi at the hands of his Noghri bodyguard, Rukh, who had discovered the duplicitous oppression of Honoghr for which Thrawn was responsible. Rukh crept up behind Thrawn as he was sitting in his command chair and stabbed him through the chest from behind the chair, killing him.
The single clone of Thrawn, which was being grown at the Hand of Thrawn complex, remained undisturbed for almost ten years. In the event of his death, Thrawn had prophesied that he would return ten years after his death to rule the Empire once again.
Ten years after his death, a pretender named Flim was hired by Moff Vilim Disra to help rally the Imperial forces and bolster morale. The imposter was later revealed to Admiral Pellaeon by Talon Karrde and Shada D'ukal, with information they had received from Jorj Car'das, about Flim, Disra and the third member of their triumvirate, Major Grodin Tierce.
Mara Jade was lured to the Hand of Thrawn complex on Nirauan, with Luke Skywalker coming to help her after Karrde's people lost contact with her. Admiral Parck, Baron Fel, and many Chiss soldiers had spent the previous decade continuing Thrawn's fight against threats from the Unknown Regions, and mindful of Thrawn's prophecy wanted to persuade Mara to join them and work for Thrawn.
In the course of their investigation of the Nirauan fortress, Luke and Mara discovered a cloning chamber and found a fully mature clone of Thrawn still in the cloning cylinder. Luke and Mara destroyed the complex walls and flooded the cloning facility, destroying everything inside, including the incubating clone of Thrawn.
Ten years after his actual death, the career of Mitth'raw'nuruodo finally came to its end, although Mara Jade's observation of Aristocra Chaf'orm'bintrano's plan at the Battle of the Redoubt led her to believe that Thrawn may have somehow survived or that another clone of him existed. Chaf'orm'bintrano's personality change from earlier years adds to this suspicion.
Personality and traits
- "I have no qualms about accepting a useful idea merely because it wasn't my own."
Appalled by the "Vader style" of command that so many of his contemporaries supported, Thrawn preferred to promote creativity in his crew, rather than merely punish their failures, and did not often kill off personnel for minor failures, as that could easily strain the resources of the Empire, which was unaffordable at the time. This was perhaps best exemplified in a pair of incidents surrounding the tractor beam control pit. During his campaign against the New Republic, a tractor beam operator, Cris Pieterson, aboard Chimaera was responsible for allowing Luke Skywalker to escape capture. Thrawn investigated the incident and found a defiant Pieterson disrespectfully refusing to claim responsibility for the incident, referring Thrawn to his commanding ensign. Thrawn summarily had the man executed at his post in a rather brutal fashion by Rukh, and informed the ensign that he was free to train the next replacement. On the other hand, when Skywalker escaped a similar trap again, he rewarded the new tractor beam operator, Rejlii Mithel, with a promotion to Lieutenant because the man had employed creative thinking in his attempt to capture Skywalker. In addition, Thrawn encouraged his senior officers to express their own ideas and gave them reasoned consideration rather than ignore any outside ideas, as many an Imperial commander had done during the height of the Empire. The sharp contrast between Thrawn's style and that of megalomaniac and sadistic Imperial leaders heightened Thrawn's ability to lead.
Thrawn's command boosted the morale of his crew through victories, but also through his clear dedication to the Empire. Officers and crewmen serving under Thrawn admired his lack of concern for personal glory, wanting only the defeat of the Empire's enemies and the establishment of order. It was later postulated that Thrawn did not support the Empire per se, but rather wanted to establish order in the known galaxy in preparation to combat as-yet-unknown threats he had discovered during his time in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy.
Finally, Thrawn was willing to admit defeat. Rather than stand proud and fight a losing battle, Thrawn knew when it was time to retreat, although those instances were few and far between. One such time was after the Battle of Sluis Van, when his attempt to capture a number of capital ships docked at the shipyards failed. Rather than cover his failure and waste lives and equipment in a vain attack, Thrawn decided to withdraw instead, and in those instances would adjust his plans in later attempts.
- "Learn about art, Captain. When you understand a species' art, you understand that species."
- ―Thrawn to Pellaeon
While a master of military tactics, Thrawn was more than an adept commander. His use of knowledge and intelligence in conjunction with stunning tactics proved Thrawn to be one of the galaxy's most remarkable military commanders.
The precise application of intelligence allowed Thrawn to win countless victories over numerically superior forces. Thrawn believed that one could understand the psychological and tactical limitations of one's adversaries through the examination of their art, and thus exploit their weaknesses. This conviction was often proven correct since his vast knowledge and obsession with the analytical study of art resulted in almost infallible strategic victories over nearly every opponent Thrawn engaged. Thrawn had a large holographic collection of art, although he also possessed few real artifacts, including Killik Twilight, a set of Mandalorian armor which he wore on his mission to Corellia, and, according to rumor, General Grievous's mask. He also had a statue made by a certain species, which were totally wiped out by his forces—it was the only case when Thrawn had knowledge of a particular species' art and was not able to create a proper tactic to defeat them without total annihilation.
An attention to small details also played a major role in Thrawn's technique. By scouring large collections of data and intelligence, Thrawn was able to piece together small details that alone were merely trivial, but together formed a powerful variable. Additionally, his collection of information and near-encyclopedic knowledge of topics gave Thrawn an eerie aura of omniscience. At least once, however, he made mistakes as a result of over-predicting his enemies, assuming they knew information that they did not.
Finally, Thrawn laid out complex campaigns in advance of his attacks. By following a carefully planned campaign, Thrawn was able to keep his enemies guessing. In the time it took his enemies to understand one phase of his plan, Thrawn had already moved on to the next. In this, Thrawn was always a step ahead of his foes.
Behind the scenes
- "He’s a clever villain. People like reading about clever, interesting opponents to our heroes. People who are able to outthink, outmaneuver as well as outfight. Ultimately the heroism of the hero is measured by the villainy or power of the villain and with Thrawn I wanted something different than Force using Vader or Palpatine. Somebody who doesn’t have Luke’s Force Powers, but can run him around in a maze whenever he really wants to."
- ―Timothy Zahn
Grand Admiral Thrawn first appeared in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire, the first book of the Thrawn Trilogy that was named for the Grand Admiral. The trilogy marked the dawn of a new era in the Expanded Universe, and Thrawn's character is considered a contributing factor.
Author Timothy Zahn has stated that Thrawn's character is a composite of various historical and fictional personalities, including Erwin Rommel, Robert E. Lee, Hannibal Barca, Alexander the Great, and Sherlock Holmes, to name a few.
In a 2007 interview, Timothy Zahn explained that he could bring another clone of Thrawn to life if the Grand Admiral's ability is an absolute necessity to solve future galactic crisis. However, to escape the traditional archetypes of clones, Zahn stated that that clone would be aware that he was not Thrawn, and would be aware of immense pressure to live up to the original. To prepare for Thrawn's possible return, Zahn aroused Mara Jade Skywalker's suspicion that another clone of Thrawn existed and was behind the events in the novel Survivor's Quest.[source?]
Occasionally, Thrawn's Grand Admiral uniform is depicted without the gold epaulets, such as in the The Last Command comic series, Reflections II, The Essential Guide to Characters, The New Essential Guide to Characters, Imperial Entanglements or The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide.
An action figure of Thrawn was made in 1998 as part of the Expanded Universe assortment of the Power of the Force II line. The figure came with a blaster pistol and an ysalamir. He was released yet again as a part of the 2008 Comic Two-Pack series. He again came with an ysalamir and is packaged alongside Talon Karrde and a reprint of Heir to the Empire 1.
In 2010, Sideshow Collectibles released a 12" figure of Thrawn in his white uniform with insignia but no epaulettes; a blaster pistol; ysalamir; and interchangeable grip-hands/fists.
Thrawn was voiced by Tris King in Star Wars: TIE Fighter. Cutscenes of him in the bridge of the Star Destroyer show him wearing the Grand Admiral's white uniform before he publicly attained that rank. A mustached man to his left resembles Gilad Pellaeon, likely as a tribute to Zahn's novels.
In Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption, Thrawn appears as a playable space hero for the Empire as commander of Admonitor when the Empire reaches its penultimate tech level. Admonitor itself doesn't differ much from other Star Destroyers featured in the game apart from a bluish color theme and a few additional abilities. Thrawn boosts morale of ally units present and can also remove Tyber Zann's corruption from a planet. Thrawn is voiced by Robin Atkin Downes.
Notes and references