- "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."
- ―Leia Organa to Wilhuff Tarkin
Wilhuff Tarkin was a human male who served the Galactic Republic and later the Galactic Empire. During the Clone Wars, Tarkin served as a Republic captain under Jedi Master Even Piell and was taken prisoner by the Confederacy of Independent Systems, before escaping with the help of a Jedi and clone trooper strike team. During the incident Piell was killed and Tarkin was later promoted to Admiral and served as prosecutor in the trial of Ahsoka Tano, who was framed for the bombing of the Jedi Temple hangar.
After Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine transformed the Republic into the Galactic Empire, Tarkin became the empire's first Grand Moff, and regional Governor of the Outer Rim. With this responsibility, he was also given command of the Death Star. He believed that fear of the battle station would keep the local systems loyal to the Empire, and used it to destroy Alderaan to showcase the station's power. The Rebel Alliance squad Rogue One, however, stole plans to the Death Star from Scarif, and Luke Skywalker was able to destroy it during the Battle of Yavin, killing all those on board, including Tarkin.
Wilhuff Tarkin was born on the planet Eriadu into the wealthy Tarkin family. He lived with his family in the family compound, where the Tarkins had lived for over a millennium. Wilhuff's father and mother taught him that Eriadu hadn't always been the safe environment that it seemed—the entire planet had once been an untamed wilderness. The jungle and predators had been more of a threat than pirates and marauders. The early Tarkins had helped settle Eriadu; they had been their own police force. Later a militia had been formed—under Tarkin leadership. Wilhuff took these history lessons to heart. Wilhuff's parents made sure that he knew that respect, discipline and obedience were of the utmost importance. Because of this Wilhuff thought of himself as a product of a military upbringing. One night while at supper Tarkin's father ordered a servant to take Wilhuff's plate before he could eat—teaching him how easy it is to lose something.
Following family tradition, Wilhuff's grand-uncle Jova Tarkin, along with two other relatives and two Rodian guides, took him on trips to the Carrion Plateau, on which he taught the young survival skills and lessons on the savage wilderness that his ancestors had tamed. After passing a test in which he outwitted a pack of predators at the Carrion Spike, sixteen year-old Tarkin was deemed to have completed his testing on the plateau. Six months after passing this test, Wilhuff's training shifted to space combat. More family members and hired trainers taught him tactics and piloting skills, while admonishing him to apply the lessons he learned as a hunter to control the pirates and lawbreakers of the Outer Rim.
Early military careerEdit
Tarkin joined the Outland Regions Security Force, a force dedicated to protecting Eriadu and the Greater Seswenna sector in the absence of a Republic military. As part of this organization, he made a name for himself by outwitting and brutally suppressing a group of pirates known as Q'anah's Marauders. After decoding the pattern in the pirate leader Q'anah's attacks, Tarkin captured her ship, launching her and her crew on a slow course into a sun. The Outland ships broadcast the suffering of Q'anah's crew on her group's comm network, and destroyed any ships that came to her rescue. At the age of nineteen, Tarkin was even designing new ships for the Outland Security Force.
After working with the Outland Regions Security Force, Tarkin attended the Sullust Sector Spacefarers Academy to join the Judicial Forces. While training there, he met Sheev Palpatine, then a Senator from Naboo. Palpatine offered to help him secure a place in the Republic's Judicial Academy, but asked him to consider a career in politics. Tarkin did not follow the Senator's advice at the time, but did take his help in admission to the Academy. Following an overly dramatic entrance at the head of an Outland delegation, Tarkin had a hard time fitting in, often brawling with other students.
A mission to the world Halcyon alongside a group of Jedi gave him a chance to prove his worth, when the officer leading his team disobeyed Jedi orders and set off on a march to attack their target from another angle. The other Judicials quickly proved to be out of their depth in the wilderness, and came to rely on Tarkin's skills and leadership as he brought them safely to the objective, where the Jedi had just completed the mission. Tarkin was credited with saving their lives. Stories began to circulate within the Judicial Department of his exploits. As he continued to build a name for himself, Tarkin saw that conflicts throughout the galaxy were increasing, and turned his mind to Palpatine's advice to enter politics.
Governor of EriaduEdit
With Palpatine's backing, Tarkin became Governor of Eriadu. He aided Palpatine during the Eriadu trade summit by preventing Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum from investigating, which contributed to Valorum's fall from grace. During the Separatist Crisis, Count Dooku attempted to convince Tarkin to pledge Eriadu to the Separatist cause, but Tarkin remained loyal to Palpatine. In truth, Palpatine, as his alter ego Darth Sidious, had sent Dooku to sway him as a test of his loyalty.
The Clone WarsEdit
Battle of MurkhanaEdit
When the Clone Wars began, Tarkin became an officer in the newly-formed Republic Navy. During the early stages of the war, Tarkin was a commander at the battle of Murkhana. Tarkin spearheaded the assault against the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
Captured by the ConfederacyEdit
Sometime after the Battle of Murkhana, Tarkin served under Jedi Master Even Piell as the Captain of his flagship. Tarkin and Piell undertook a mission to secure the Nexus Route, a strategically important hyperspace route that led into both the heart of the Confederacy of Independent Systems and the Galactic Republic. Before Tarkin and Piell were able to return to Republic space and secure the information for the Republic, they were attacked by the Separatist navy. Before they were boarded Piell and Tarkin each memorized half of the information regarding the Nexus Route, they then erased it from the ship's computer. Shortly after, they and several clone troopers were captured and taken to the Separatist controlled planet Lola Sayu, a volcanic world home to the Citadel, a prison built hundreds of years before that was designed to hold renegade Jedi if any had lost their way, where Tarkin was repeatedly tortured.
Escape from Lola SayuEdit
- "You lack faith in the Jedi."
"I find their tactics ineffective. The Jedi Code prevents them from going far enough to achieve victory, to do whatever it takes to win, the very reason why peacekeepers should not be leading a war. Have I…offended you?"
"No. I've also found that we sometimes fall short of victory because of our methods."
"Well, I see we agree on something."
- ―Anakin Skywalker and Tarkin discuss the Jedi Order's place in the war.
Later, Piell was rescued by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, Skywalker's Padawan Ahsoka Tano, and several clone troopers that made up the rest of the rescue team. Piell informed Skywalker that Tarkin possessed the other half of the Nexus Route and that he and several clone troopers were being held in a separate cell. Skywalker and his team made their way to Tarkin's cell, destroying several battle droids along the way. They then freed the Republic officers and began their escape from the Citadel.
Tarkin was at first surprised to see Piell again, and elated to be freed from capture. Tarkin despaired about their current situation for they were still deep in enemy territory. General Kenobi worked out a plan to escape, but Tarkin disagreed with it, stating it would be better to stay together to bring strength in numbers, providing the already small group with better protection to escape the Citadel and protect the Nexus Route information. Piell and the others rejected Captain Tarkin's plan. They then split up into two groups, Tarkin still trying to convince them that greater strength would be found in greater numbers. Piell agreed with Kenobi and ordered Tarkin to accompany Skywalker's group. Tarkin was annoyed that his seemingly superior plan was rejected, but still did as commanded and followed Skywalker into the old tunnels under the Citadel.
They began moving through the tunnels, Skywalker noted that everything was going according to Kenobi's plan so far, Tarkin again voiced his opinion of the matter, asking what would happen if Kenobi's plan began to fail. Skywalker stated Jedi worked at their best when they had to improvise, Tarkin informed Skywalker he only respected those who took action, Skywalker retorted that he only respected those who understood gratitude, reminding Tarkin he would have still been a prisoner if not for the efforts of the Jedi.
Skywalker's Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano took lead of the group. Tarkin lacked faith in the young girl, and clone captain Rex attempted to persuade Tarkin otherwise, telling him he had served under her many times before and never failed him. Tarkin was unconvinced and dismissed the clone's thoughts with silence. While the group made their way through the old tunnel system towards the rendezvous point, Tarkin became increasingly impressed with the layout and structure of the Citadel. Tano was annoyed, asking Tarkin how he could admire such a monstrosity. Tarkin then explained to Tano their entire ordeal proved his claim. He then explained that he wished the Citadel had been claimed by the Republic and not the Separatists. Tano still disagreed with Tarkin while Skywalker agreed with him.
Tarkin then admitted to Skywalker that he had earned his trust but not the rest of the Jedi Order, for in Tarkin's experience the Jedi's tactics had proved ineffective. The Jedi Code prevented them from going far enough to defeat the Confederacy and end the Clone War. Skywalker, rather than being offended by Tarkin's opinion, agreed with him, stating that their tactics did keep them from going far enough to achieve victory at times. Tarkin and Skywalker came to a mutual respect for one another.
They soon reached the shuttle's location, but before they could board they were attacked by a Separatist droid garrison and several laser cannons. Tarkin reached the conclusion that to take the shuttle and escape they would have to attack in a full forward assault, but before a decision could be made the shuttle was destroyed by the droids. The group was then forced to retreat from the superior numbers of their enemies.
Soon they were provided a set of coordinates where they would be picked up by a Jedi led rescue team. Tarkin questioned what would become of them if the Jedi failed to rescue them, much to Piell's annoyance. Skywalker warned Tarkin that arguing with Piell was ill fated, Tarkin stated he stood by his principles without compromise no matter what. Tarkin did not feel threatened by Piell for his career was sound, he had found favor with the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic Sheev Palpatine. Anakin retorted that he had also fallen into favor with the Chancellor, causing the pair to grow a further sense of respect for one another.
Soon the group was attacked by more droids and several anoobas, the group reached a cliff face, unable to climb down they locked in their ascension gun cables, Tarkin climbed onto Skywalker's back and repelled down the cliff. Tarkin then engaged the droids in combat, shooting down at least one STAP and several commando droids, Tarkin was saved by a clone navy trooper who sacrificed himself by pushing Tarkin out of a blaster bolt's path by taking it himself. After the battle Tarkin informed the group that more squads would soon be on their way. General Piell fell in battle, mortally wounded by an anooba, but before he died he passed on his half of the information to Ahsoka Tano, much to Tarkin's annoyance. The Jedi held a short funeral for Master Piell before moving on. Soon the group made their way to the coordinates and were attacked by more battle droids and the Citadel's sadistic caretaker Osi Sobeck. After a brief battle Sobeck was all that remained, he was unarmed and at Tarkin's mercy, Tarkin fired his blaster rifle, wounding Sobeck. Sobeck charged Tarkin, lifting him over his head. Sobeck was about to throw Tarkin into a river of lava when Ahoska Tano stabbed Sobeck through the back with her lightsaber. Captain Tarkin recovered, thanked Tano and then stated that Skywalker had trained his Padawan well. They were then picked up by the rescue team and were taken to the safety of Coruscant. When Master Yoda suggested debriefing both Tarkin and Ahsoka on the intel they possessed, Tarkin insisted that his intel be taken directly to the Supreme Chancellor, in contrast to Tano's resolution to share the information only with the Jedi High Council. Following this debate, Tarkin commended Skywalker on his efforts, while subtly insulting Kenobi by expressing a desire to see more Jedi with Skywalker's military sensibilities.
- "We are scanning a large amount of rhydonium on that ship!"
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin, during the Carida incident
In the later stages of the Clone Wars, Tarkin and many other members of the Republic Navy and Jedi Order convened on space station Valor in orbit of the planet Carida to discuss their ongoing efforts to defeat the Separatists at the Republic strategy conference. Shortly before the conference was set to begin, a Venator-class Star Destroyer, which had been hijacked and loaded with highly explosive ryhdonium by the Separatists, came out of hyperspace near the station. Tarkin's astromech droid Z9 notified Tarkin that he was unable to contact anyone on board the Renown. Just as they realized the ship was really a bomb, the rhydonium was set off and tore open the ship. The shockwave shook Valor while debris crashed into the hull. Luckily D-Squad, a squadron of droids led by Colonel Meebur Gascon sent on a secret mission, was able to stop Renown and detonate the bomb before it reached the station, saving Tarkin and everyone else on board. Tarkin later wrote a request to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine blaming the Jedi for the incident, for they had been incompetent in preventing the attack in the first place, and requesting he retire the Jedi from leading the Clone War.
Bombing of the Jedi Temple hangarEdit
Shortly after the Carida Incident Tarkin was promoted to the rank of admiral. During this time the Jedi Temple was bombed. Several Jedi and clone troopers were killed in the blast. Tarkin attended a funeral for the victims of the bombing. Afterwards he informed Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee that the accused perpetrator of the bombing, Letta Turmond, had been transferred from the Jedi Temple to Republic custody. Tano was dismayed by this and insisted this was a Jedi matter, not the Republic military's business. Tarkin explained to her since clones were killed in the explosion and Turmond was not a Jedi, the Republic military had jurisdiction. Skywalker scolded Tano for becoming angry. After Tano left Skywalker admitted to Tarkin that in many ways Tano was still very young.
Later, Admiral Tarkin contacted Tano and informed her Turmond wished to speak with her. Tano met with Turmond in her prison cell where she appeared to have been choked to death by ways of the Force. It was assumed that since Tano was a Jedi and she was alone with Turmond when she was killed, that Tano was the killer. Ahsoka was then arrested for Turmond's murder. Tarkin later visited Tano in her cell and showed her a holorecording of the incident. Curiously the sound was missing from the recording, which made it seem as though Tano was telekentically strangling Turmond. Tarkin ordered no one be allowed to visit Tano, which angered her Jedi Master, Anakin Skywalker. Tano soon escaped from the Coruscant military base where she had been imprisoned.
Trial of Ahsoka TanoEdit
- "Former Padawan Tano, I shall prove that you were the mastermind behind the attack on the Jedi Temple. That once your accomplices carried out your orders, you eliminated them one by one. When you are found guilty, I ask the Court the full-extent of the law be brought down upon you, including penalty of death!"
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin, presiding over the trial
Soon after, Ahsoka Tano was recaptured. Tarkin came before the Jedi High Council via hologram on behalf of the senate to request that Tano be expelled from the Jedi Order so that she could be tried by a Republic tribunal court. The senate and Tarkin feared that if Tano were tried solely by the Jedi the verdict would be biased, as Tano was a Jedi. The Council reluctantly bowed to Tarkin's wishes and Tano was tried before a jury of senators. Tarkin headed the prosecution while senator Padmé Amidala of Naboo headed the defense. Tarkin stated he would prove Tano guilty of the Jedi Temple bombing and the murder of her cohorts, and requested the death penalty be used "when" Tano was found guilty. Padmé Amidala argued that if Tano were truly guilty she would not have made the evidence against herself so obvious. Tarkin doubted this claim and mentioned that Tano had been seen collaborating with the known Separatist terrorist Asajj Ventress after she had escaped Republic custody.
Soon the arguments were concluded and the jury reached a verdict. But before Chancellor Palpatine could read the verdict aloud to the court room, Anakin Skywalker and several Jedi Temple Guards arrived in the court room with Jedi Padawan Barris Offee. Offee confessed to the bombing and the murder of Letta Turmond, and then a speech protesting against what the Jedi Order had become during the Clone Wars. Tarkin looked on with much interest. All charges against Ahsoka Tano were dropped, but she refused to rejoin the Jedi as a result of feeling betrayed by them during the escapade.
Rise and Age of the EmpireEdit
- "Heck, he had already created an army."
- ―Berch Teller, on Tarkin
In the early days of the Empire, Imperial forces targeted former Separatist worlds in order to pacify any remnants of Separatist rebellion. With Tarkin being assigned to make an example of Antar 4, he made no attempt to sort Separatists from loyalists when he carried out mass arrests, executions, and massacres. When word broke out the media dubbed the event as the Antar Atrocity and to distance Tarkin from the controversial event, the Emperor assigned him to pacification operations in the Western Reaches, before ultimately assigning him to oversee the construction of the Death Star from Sentinel Base.
After Sentinel Base was attacked by a group using old Separatist-era starships, Emperor Palpatine assigned Tarkin and Vader to track down those responsible. During their mission to Murkhana Tarkin's personal starship, the Carrion Spike, was stolen by the rebels. Tarkin and Vader stole a ship from a Sugi arms dealer, who lived on the planet, named Faazah. Vader and Tarkin threatened to kill Faazah's family if they were not given a ship; the Sugi complied with the demand, though did not survive for Lord Vader killed him for wasting his time. The pair followed the ship and its pilots through space as the rebels used the ship to wreak havoc. Vader used the Force and its connection to his meditation chamber, which was still on the Carrion Spike, to follow the ship through hyperspace. Eventually the duo discovered that Vice Admiral Dodd Rancit had been conspiring with political dissidents, and crushed the plot before it could threaten the Imperial power structure. The Imperial defector was launched from his cruiser in an escape pod and forced to give the fire order against himself. As a result, Tarkin was elevated to the newly created rank of Grand Moff.
Following his promotion, Tarkin joined with Count Denetrius Vidian to investigate a decline in the stormtrooper armor production rate on the planet Gilvaanen. Despite their rivalry, the two discovered a plot to sabotage the armor, which they quickly extinguished. Subsequently, Vidian placed his aide, Lieutenant Everi Chalis, in charge of the armor production chain.
Eight years following the end of the Clone Wars, Tarkin gave a grand speech at the introduction ceremony for the planet Jelucan into the Galactic Empire, following its conquest. He was accompanied by a young Firmus Piett. He later accosted the children Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, who had sneaked inside an Imperial hangar in order to get a close up view of various starships, but allowed them inside an Imperial Shuttle to prove a point in an ideological argument he was engaged in with Piett.
Around the same time, the freshly-anointed Grand Moff visited an Eriaduan air scrubber farm that had been the site of a tragic incident involving rebels. Tarkin addressed the nervous manager of the farm, whose daughter had been crushed to the ground by a falling scrubber during the rebel attack. The Grand Moff's retinue of stormtroopers made an impression on the manager's son, who would ultimately join their ranks.
Governor of the Outer RimEdit
- "You have had a single, simple objective, Minister: to protect the Empire's industrial interests here, interests which are vital for our expansion throughout the Outer Rim. But instead of protecting those interests, you have allowed a cell of insurgents to develop right under your nose."
- ―Governor Tarkin reprimanding Minister Maketh Tua about her failure to stop the rebels.
Fourteen years after the end of the Clone Wars, the Empire began to expand into the Outer Rim Territories, the farthest reaches of the galaxy which had been notorious for its lawlessness during the days of the Republic. The Empire claimed several worlds in the Outer Rim, such as Lothal. Tarkin was appointed as Governor of the Outer Rim and took on a great many responsibilities in seeing that every planet operated at peak efficiency to assist Imperial expansion into the Outer Rim. On Lothal, Tarkin was responsible for evicting a multitude of farmers from their land to allow the Empire to mine for minerals and establish new industrial complexes to increase productivity to equip the Imperial Military. The farmers were relocated to Lothal re-settlement camp 43, which they called "Tarkintown" after the Grand Moff.
As more and more worlds were conquered by the Empire, rebel cells began to emerge to defy Imperial occupation, such as a small group of rebels on Lothal. Although they were considered insignificant by the Empire, Tarkin and several other high-ranking Imperials feared that these cells would unite and form a more dangerous threat to the Empire. Tarkin therefore required his officers to act with brutal efficiency against such defiance to prevent any type of allied resistance developing.
A Jedi on LothalEdit
- "I actually knew the Jedi, not from the pages of folklore or children's tales, but as flesh and blood. And do you know what happened to them?"
"Well, there were rumors-"
"They died. Every last one of them. So you see, this criminal cannot be what he claims to be—and I shall prove it."
- ―Governor Tarkin and Minister Maketh Tua, regarding Kanan Jarrus and the rebels
When rumors reached the high levels of the Empire that a Jedi was leading a rebel cell on Lothal, a world vital to Imperial Military efforts in the Outer Rim, it created fear that this could be the symbol the various rebels needed to unite against Imperial occupation. Although Tarkin doubted the existence of the Jedi, believing them to have all died during the Purge, the constant failures of the Grand Inquisitor to apprehend the rebels made the situation all the more pressing. Tarkin eventually decided to travel to Lothal personally to deal with the rebels.
Arriving on Lothal, Tarkin was greeted by Minister Maketh Tua, who had been looking after Lothal's industries in the absence of Governor Arihnda Pryce, Agent Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau, and the Inquisitor. Tarkin wasted no time in addressing the excuses and failures of the leadership. The following day, Tarkin addressed the previous failures of two officers, Commandant Cumberlayne Aresko and Taskmaster Myles Grint in putting down the rebel threat by having the Inquisitor behead them to set an example for the others.
Tarkin then ordered Agent Kallus to send probe droids to all areas of known rebel activity on the planet. Shortly after, one of the droids near Lothal's Imperial Communications Center was attacked and damaged, but was still able to transmit footage of the rebels as they made their escape. With this information Tarkin was able to plan a surprise counterattack on the rebels which lead to the capture of their leader, the Jedi Kanan Jarrus. However, the group was able to complete their objective, which was to broadcast a message to Lothal using the tower's transmitter. The message was only able to continue for another minute before Tarkin had the tower struck with missiles and brought down.
With Jarrus captured, he was brought to Tarkin's flagship, the Sovereign, in orbit over Lothal. Interrogated by Tarkin and Agent Kallus, he proved resistant to mind probes and failed to break. The Inquisitor eventually took over the interrogation when he revealed that Jedi were trained to resist mind probes but that they were not invulnerable to pain. Despite torturing him with both the Force and electricity, Jarrus refused to break. Although the Inquisitor came to believe that Jarrus did not know anything about a larger rebellion, Tarkin refused to believe it and ordered that the Jedi be transferred to a new facility on Mustafar which had 'never failed to extract results.'
Rebellion over MustafarEdit
The Sovereign arrived over Mustafar to rendezvous with an Imperial fleet. As Tarkin took over command of the fleet, the Inquisitor continued his interrogation of Jarrus about the activities of other rebels, specifically about a mysterious rebel codenamed "Fulcrum". However, before Jarrus could be broken, the other rebels came to rescue their captured leader. They infiltrated the Sovereign by sending in a stolen TIE fighter which contained several EMP devices, which neutralized the flagship's power and neutralized all its stormtroopers. Tarkin ordered the ship to activate its secondary power source and reassured his officers that reinforcements were on their way: he had been sending out an all-clear signal to the fleet which went dead when the power was cut. Several shuttles bearing stormtroopers boarded the Sovereign to stop the rebels.
After the rebels broke Jarrus out of his cell, the Inquisitor tried to stop the Jedi in the reactor room but was defeated by Jarrus. The Inquisitor's lightsaber hit the reactors and caused a chain reaction which threatened to destroy the ship. Tarkin was eventually convinced to evacuate the Sovereign by one of his officers, leaving in a shuttle for the other ships of the fleet. Meanwhile, the rebels escaped the flagship in two TIE fighters. Although their craft prevented from jumping into hyperspace and made it difficult for them to resist the dozens of TIE fighters Tarkin had sent against them, a fleet of blockade runners jumped out of hyperspace and helped the rebels escape from the Imperial fleet. As such, Tarkin's, and the Empire's, worst fears had been confirmed: there was a larger rebellion active in the galaxy and they had just defied the Empire with impunity before escaping.
After the events on Mustafar, Tarkin returned to Lothal where he was greeted by Agent Kallus, who informed him that rumors from Mustafar had been reaching several worlds of the Outer Rim. Unrest and riots had been reported all over Lothal as the Empire was no longer believed to be invulnerable and was even considered weak. Tarkin reassured Kallus by telling him that the Emperor had taken a personal interest in the events in the Outer Rim. With the Inquisitor's death, he had sent a far deadlier agent to Lothal to deal with the growing rebellion: Darth Vader, the Emperor's own apprentice.
Some time later, he was displeased with Minister Tua's failures to capture the rebels, having taken the destruction of his Star Destroyer personally. He then demanded that Tua visit him to account for her failures, a message that was delivered by Darth Vader. This drove Tua to seek help from the rebels, leading to her death from explosives planted on her ship.
The secrets of ArkanisEdit
Around the time of his stay on Lothal, Tarkin heard rumors that Commandant Brendol Hux had created a secret society independent of the regular chain of command within the Arkanis Academy. In order to investigate the matter and, if need be, disrupt the secret society, Tarkin transferred Lieutenant Chiron from the Lothal academy to Arkanis. The Grand Moff made sure that his personal aide, Major Cass, provided Chiron with all the clearance codes the lieutenant would need to carry out his duties properly.
Raid at Reklam StationEdit
Six months after Lord Vader's mission to Malachor, Tarkin then spoke with Governor Arihnda Pryce about securing Lothal. He also spoke with her about the recent rebel attack on Naraka's prison. Tarkin listened to her fears about the rebels and how they threaten the Empire. Tarkin agreed with her, but assured her that Lord Vader had taken care of the rebels' Jedi leadership. He then asked Pryce what the empire should do. Pryce requested for the Seventh Fleet to deployed to Lothal due to Admiral Kassius Konstantine's status as a politician then a soldier. Tarkin then granted her request for the Seventh Fleet and its commander, Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Tarkin then attended a briefing between Pryce, Kallus, and Konstantine. Konstantine attempted to convince Tarkin that Pryce was overestimating the rebels and did not pose a larger threat to the Empire. However, Grand Admiral Thrawn entered and believed that the rebels threat should remain that way. Tarkin then introduced Thrawn and told of them of Thrawn's promotion to Grand Admiral following his victory over the Batonn's insurgents. At this briefing, Tarkin asked Thrawn of what he thought of Pryce's theory about the Rebels. After reviewing the information about the rebels' rescue of Hondo Ohnaka from Naraka's prison, Thrawn concluded that the rebels next target would the Y-wing starfighters at Reklam Station.
Galactic Civil WarEdit
Loss of the Death Star plansEdit
- "Lord Vader will handle the fleet. Target the base of Scarif. Single reactor ignition... You may fire when ready."
- ―Grand Moff Tarkin
As the Death Star neared completion, Tarkin was invited among other delegates to observe the station's first live fire test of its superlaser, which consisted of a low power firing on the Jedi holy city on the moon Jedha. The bombardment had the desired effect, resulting in the total destruction of the captured city and a devastating shockwave in the surrounding area. Suitably impressed, Tarkin then immediately assumed authority of the Death Star over the protests of its nominal commander, Director Orson Krennic, citing his subordinate's security failures with the project as justification.
Shortly after the test, members of Alliance to Restore the Republic known as "Rogue One", raided the Imperial archives on Scarif for the Death Star's schematics. This initially unauthorized operation was then supported by the Rebel fleet, and the operation soon escalated into a full-fledged battle. Correctly deducing the Rebels' objective upon receiving a report of the attack, Tarkin brought the Death Star to Scarif in response to the emergency. While Darth Vader dealt with the enemy fleet directly, Tarkin had the Death Star fire on the base in an attempt to halt the transmissions. Regardless, this counter-move failed with the intelligence transmitted to the Rebel fleet before he could strike and then the blockade runner ship bearing those plans, Tantive IV, escaping the system before Vader could stop it. Thus the Rebel Alliance scored a (albeit costly) victory against the Empire despite Tarkin's efforts to thwart it.
With this failure, Tarkin shared the concern that the plans, given the proper analysis, would enable rebels able to determine the weaknesses of the Death Star and, therefore, destroy it. When Imperial spies discovered that the plans were being held by Princess Leia Organa, the Imperial Senator for Alderaan, her suspected allegiance to the rebels was finally confirmed. The Emperor assigned Darth Vader to hunt her down and recover the plans. Meanwhile, a meeting of high ranking Imperials took place in the Death Star's conference room, chaired by Tarkin, as the battle station's commander. Among the topics of discussion were the near-completion of the Death Star and the fact that it could be compromised. Before the meeting started, Vader arrived on the Death Star from Tatooine where he had successfully captured the princess, but failed to acquire the stolen plans. In the meantime, with the Death Star near completion, the Emperor decided that the time had come to dissolve the Imperial Senate as, with the fear the battle station could inspire, they would no longer need bureaucrats to keep order in the Empire's worlds. Tarkin was immediately informed of the Emperor's plans, as well as the fact that the Senate's former powers would be transferred to the military and to regional governors, such as himself. He then proceed to inform the assembled commanders of the new changes and of the absolute necessity of the Death Star.
General Cassio Tagge was worried that the rebels, whom he believed were far better equipped and organized than the Empire believed, would be able to find a weakness in the Death Star and use it. However, Admiral Motti believed that the Death Star was indestructible and that they should not shy away from using it. When Vader berated him for relying too much on technology and boasted that the power of the Force was far greater than any of the Death Star's abilities, Motti mocked the Dark Lord by calling him a mere sorcerer and criticizing his inability to find the stolen plans or the rebels. Motti was saved from Vader's Force choke only by Tarkin's intervention. Irritated by two Joint Chiefs' squabbling, Tarkin decreed that Vader would find the Rebels and that they would then use the Death Star to destroy them once and for all.
The destruction of AlderaanEdit
- "I think it is time we demonstrated the full power of this station. Set your course for Alderaan."
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin
Despite Vader's best efforts, the interrogation of the princess failed to yield any results as she proved surprisingly resistant to the mind probe. As the Dark Lord was updating Tarkin and Tagge of this, Motti approached them to inform them that the Death Star was completely operational. Believing the princess would respond to a different approach of interrogation, Tarkin ordered that the Death Star be taken to Alderaan. Upon arriving in the system, the princess was brought before Tarkin who threatened to have the planet destroyed if she refused to comply with them and give them the location of the rebel base. Eventually, Leia complied and told them that the rebels were hiding on Dantooine.
Pleased with the results, Tarkin nevertheless gave the order to destroy Alderaan, as Dantooine would not provide a good demonstration of the station's power. Despite Leia's protests, the action was carried forward and Alderaan was destroyed, causing a major disturbance in the Force. Sometime later, Imperial scouts that had been sent to Dantooine returned to reveal that Leia had lied: although the rebels had been on the world at one point, it had long been deserted. Furious, Tarkin ordered Vader to execute the princess with immediate effect.
Setting a trapEdit
Before Vader could enact Tarkin's command to execute the princess, a ship was captured by the Death Star's tractor beam in the ruins of Alderaan and matched the description of the ship which had escaped Vader's troops on Tatooine during their hunt for the stolen plans. Believing that the passengers were trying to return said plans to the princess, Vader convinced the Governor to suspend her execution as she may still be of use to them. Vader's plan was to let the rebels escape with a homing beacon left on their ship, which would lead them to the Rebel base. Despite Vader's assurance, Tarkin had doubts the plan could work.
Later, Vader met privately with Tarkin to inform him that one of the passengers of the captured ship was his former Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Surprised and unconvinced, Tarkin was nevertheless forced to accept that someone was loose in the station when he was informed that the princess had been broken out of her cell. Not only did he authorize Vader to pursue his old Master alone, it also seemed that he approved his plan to place a homing beacon on the Falcon so that they could track it back to the rebels. The rebels later escaped although Vader successfully killed Kenobi. In order to maintain the illusion of preventing escape, Tarkin sent four TIE fighters after the ship, but they were easily outran and the rebels escaped into hyperspace. The Death Star followed closely behind, determined to destroy the rebels once they found them.
- "Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you over-estimate their chances!"
- ―Tarkin, convinced of the Death Star's invulnerability to the end
Vader's plan worked and the Death Star tracked the Falcon to the actual rebel base hidden on the moon of Yavin 4. As the Death Star orbited the planet, Tarkin gave instructions for the station to fire when ready. However, the rebels had discovered the weakness (intentionally placed during the station's construction by Galen Erso) in the battle-station's design: a small thermal exhaust port that led to the station's main reactor and, if hit properly with proton torpedoes, would cause a chain reaction that would destroy the Death Star.
As the station was designed to repel a large scale assault, the rebels attacked with small ships: X-wings and Y-Wings launched an attack on the Death Star. Vader ordered all fighters to launch to stop the rebels while Tarkin remained in the command center, observing the Death Star's progress around Yavin to reach the moon. When analyst Jude Edivon discovered that there was a danger in the rebel attack, Imperial officers tried to convince Tarkin to evacuate but the Grand Moff refused, convinced in the invulnerability of the Death Star and the upcoming victory against the rebels.
Eventually, as Vader shot down almost all Rebel ships, the Death Star finally reached range of the moon and Tarkin gave immediate orders for the base to be destroyed. However, Vader was unable to stop one of the last rebel pilots from targeting the exhaust port and destroying the station. Tarkin was still convinced in the invincibility of the battle station that he had commanded when it blew up under his feet.
The destruction of the Death Star and Tarkin's subsequent death left a gap in the Imperial High Command, which paved the way for Cassio Tagge's rise to power as Grand General. As one of the staunchest critics of the Death Star and Tarkin's policies, Tagge derisively referred to the station as "Tarkin's folly," believing the Empire had wasted time and resources that could have been put towards the construction of more capital ships. Darth Vader, despite being left with the blame for the station's destruction nonetheless regarded Tarkin posthumously for his vision, as opposed to Tagge's more practical methods.
Over thirty years after his death in the Battle of Yavin, Tarkin would be held in high esteem by the Empire's successor organization, the First Order. As part of the First Order's commemorative rank insignia system, honoring famous units and heroes of the Galactic Civil War, Tarkin's last name was present on the armband insignia for the rank of Major.
Personality and traitsEdit
- "Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station."
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin, on the Death Star's intended psychological effect
Wilhuff Tarkin was a human male who stood 1.85 meters tall and had blue eyes. During the Clone Wars, he had auburn hair which later turned gray by the time of the rebellion. As a child, his parents instilled a sense of ruthlessness in their son by sending him into the untamed Carrion Plateau at the age of eleven. Through this experience, Tarkin came to believe that the strong and intelligent remained in power by maintaining control over those beneath them—that life was a constant struggle for survival. The lessons of Tarkin's childhood continued to influence him throughout his adolescent years, particularly in space combat where he killed a band of pirates while serving with the Outland Regions Security Force. The ambitious Naboo politician Sheev Palpatine had a strong influence on Tarkin as well. Through Palpatine's influence, Tarkin pursued career paths in both law enforcement and government, serving first with the Judicial Department before gaining the governorship of his homeworld on the advice of his mentor.
With the outbreak of the Clone Wars, Tarkin opted for renewed military service following his tenure as governor of Eriadu. As a captain in the Republic Navy, he served under the command of the Jedi Generals due to their appointment as leaders of the Grand Army of the Republic, but also resented the Jedi Order for its independence from the bureaucracy and military hierarchy. He believed that the Jedi were ill-suited to lead the Galactic Republic's war effort due to their traditional role as peacekeepers, although this view did not apply to all members of the Order—having developed a grudging respect for the hardened warrior Even Piell and admiration for Anakin Skywalker. As an admiral, Tarkin remained resentful of the Jedi's independence and used the deaths of clone troopers in the bombing of the Jedi Temple to argue that the incident was a Republic military matter rather than an internal affair of the Order. Having made his case to the Jedi High Council, Tarkin sought to prosecute the defendant Ahsoka Tano to the full extent of Republic law, which included the penalty of death. While Tarkin ultimately failed to achieve his goal due to the confession of Barriss Offee, he listened with great interest as the fallen Jedi publicly denounced the Order and the Republic for their role in the Clone Wars.
As a loyal protégé of Palpatine, Tarkin became one of the strongest supporters of the New Order in the aftermath of the Republic's reorganization as the Galactic Empire. His tireless efforts to root out resistance to Palpatine's rule as Emperor was rewarded with a promotion to the rank of Grand Moff of the Outer Rim Territories. Over the course of his career under the Empire, Tarkin helped to consolidate the Empire's control of the galaxy through the use of ruthless tactics, overseeing mass arrests and executions of both Separatists and Republic loyalists on Antar 4. As Grand Moff, he did not tolerate failure and was keen on making examples of ineffectual officers by having them summarily executed. With the completion of the Death Star, Tarkin developed a simple and brutal philosophy—fear of the battle station's planet-killing superweapon would henceforth suppress all resistance to Imperial power.
In addition to his reputation as an ambitious and ruthless proponent of military power, Tarkin was known for his sharp memory. He never forgot a favor or a slight and was capable of recalling people from meetings that took place over a decade before, even if he had only met them once. For example, when Ciena Ree greeted him at the Death Star, he recognized her from their encounter that took place when she was a child.
Behind the scenesEdit
Tarkin was played by Peter Cushing in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, and by Wayne Pygram in a cameo in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. He is voiced by Stephen Stanton in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Unlike Alec Guinness, Obi-Wan Kenobi's portrayer, Cushing enjoyed his experience on the film, although he regretted not being able to appear in subsequent films due to his character's death.
During the early development of Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas wanted to use stock footage with CGI to 'resurrect' Cushing for one of the final scenes of the film. However, he later decided that the stock footage wasn't good enough to be used and cast Wayne Pygram for Tarkin's role, because he shared an uncanny resemblance with Cushing.
For Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, groundbreaking CGI and digitally altered archive footage was used to digitally insert Peter Cushing's likeness from the original movie over the body of actor Guy Henry. Cushing's family were heavily involved with the creation and had input right down to "small, subtle adjustments."
In Angry Birds Star Wars, Tarkin has a brown mustache and a brown military suit. Also, his demise is very different. He accompanies Darth Vader during the Destruction of the Death Star, and he was killed by Luke Skywalker and company during the battle.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "Return of the Kyber Saber" (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Mission to Mos Eisley"
Notes and referencesEdit
- Grand Moff Tarkin on Wikipedia