Ranks and Titles of House Telvanni

Author: Anonymous
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A report created by the scholar Andunririe for the Court of Proxy-Queen Alwinare, Alinor.

Greetings to the Majesty of the Court,

I have been tasked by Penewen, mage and advisor to the Aldmeri Dominion, to help explain and summarize the society of our cousins the Dunmer, also known as the Dark Elves. The Dark Elves are broken into houses, all of whom have their own internal social organization. This report will deal almost exclusively with the Dark Elves of House Telvanni, who are the most socially stratified. Here within are the ranks of House Telvanni.

SLAVES are not usually listed in the societal ranks, as they are considered property. While most of the Dark Elf houses have abandoned this odious practice upon joining their Ebonheart Pact, House Telvanni considers slavery a tradition and ownership a sign of status.

HIRELINGS are the lowest of the recognized ranks, consisting of free individuals in direct employment of either a house of Elf of higher station. This rank includes mostly servants, scribes, and mercenaries. Hirelings may be added and dismissed at will, can be of any of the peoples of Tamriel, and are generally treated as disposable pawns by the conniving Telvanni. Families of hirelings are independent and not considered to be officially part of the House.

RETAINERS are hirelings who have earned official acceptance in the household of their employer. They have more permanent assignments and lodgings, and answer directly to Telvanni oathmen. Retainers may marry with the permission of their house, and tend to marry within their class. Children of retainers are considered retainers as well.

OATHMAN is a term applied to all genders. Oathmen make up the bulk of any Telvanni household. Other houses also utilize the ranks of hirelings, retainers, and oathmen, but the Telvanni tend to stress the status more than others. Oathmen are allowed more freedom in their activities and are expected to take individual action in support of the house. Children of oathmen are considered oathmen.

LAWMAN, SPELLWRIGHT, and MOUTH are all specialized forms of OATHMAN. All three groups consider themselves superior to ordinary oathmen. LAWMEN are guards, wardens, and other official representative of the complicated Telvanni justice system. SPELLWRIGHTS are middling-powered mages, often apprentices assigned to their first great responsibilities.

The Telvanni MOUTH holds greater responsibilities as well as an elevated status. They serve more powerful mages (either wizards, masters, magisters, or the archmagister) and act as their public voice, representing them in most areas. They are called “mouth” because they speak with their master’s voice and keep the wheels of bureaucracy turning. As such, each wields great power on their master’s behalf.

WIZARD signifies the first rank of true power in the house. Any Telvanni mage that achieves this level of status can set their eyes on greater prizes, including master and magister.

MASTERS consist of noble mages of great power. Masters can sit on one or more of the ruling house committees, including the Assembly of Masters or the prestigious Telvanni Council. Membership to the council is by invitation of the council itself. The Archmagister leads the council, and the group is responsible for dealing with major threats to the house and choosing a hortator in times of crisis.

HORTATORS are rare and usually singular in nature. They can be found in all the Dark Elf houses, and are the highest non-magical rank within Telvanni society. Hortators are appointed in times of emergency and granted wide-sweeping authority. Past hortators have included powerful warriors, talented oathmen, and even Ordinators. Hortators serve as war leaders for only as long as the emergency lasts. The hortator outranks the masters, but masters can revoke their power at any time.

MAGISTERS are the most powerful of the mages earning the masters’ rank. Whether through consensus or by otherwise convincing the other masters, a magister title indicates that the wizard in question is powerful enough to be considered the equal of the archmagister or even their better when the time comes to make a challenge for the position.

ARCHMAGISTER is the official leader of House Telvanni, selected by the Telvanni Council. The current leader is Nelos Otheri, who wants nothing more than to be left alone to his studies. Most of the rest of the council shares this viewpoint, and as such his rule has not been challenged. As long as the dangers to House Telvanni are dealt with quickly, quietly, and by someone else, Otheri’s rule will remain secure.

Progress between the ranks is possible through effort. A limited number of available positions results in great competition for promotion, and often lower-ranking Telvanni may conspire to remove their superiors (through politics or poison) in order to create opportunities for advancement.

This last feature creates the opportunity for outside forces to use lower-ranked members of the house to cause disruptions and replace problematic leaders with someone more acceptable. Enterprising individuals could easily create situations where House Telvanni could be weakened. I suggest further study in this area is warranted.

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