To put it simply, the Red Wizards of Thay are not nice people. Given that they’re going to be appearing as villains in the upcoming movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, it’s fair to think that a lot of people who don’t play D&D or read the Forgotten Realms books won’t know who they are. So it’s wise to learn at least a little bit about the group just in case one happens to find themselves in the theater when this movie makes its way to the big screen. But to reiterate the opening point: Red Wizards are not the most pleasant individuals in the Forgotten Realms setting, especially since they were known to be slavers, used force whenever they deemed it necessary, and eventually would start to practice the type of magic that put them in contact with the undead. The fact that they’ve also been in contact with demons and creatures of the lower planes makes it easy to guess that they’re not the types of people that a lot of decent folks would want to know. There have been Red Wizards that have defected from Thay after the dreaded lich known as Szass Tam took over, but most Thayans are still adamant about retaining the power they worked so hard to attain.
Yes, they are typically villains since they’re taught to subjugate others and practice the type of magic that is typically used to harm.
The land of Thay is a hard place where might tends to make right more often than not, as the Red Wizards are the power that runs the place. Their constant pursuit of magic and their need for power has kept the country in a perpetual state of unease, and war isn’t an alien concept to this place and its people. The Red Wizards are known throughout Faerun as people to avoid; however, since they aren’t known to fight fair, and they typically aren’t known to quit when they have their sights set on something they want. They do practice all types of magic, but much of what they do is geared toward the acquisition of power, artifacts, and influence over each other since the politics in Thay are enough to make a person think that the nations of this world have things well under control.
They do shave and tattoo their heads in the books, so this appears accurate.
Thayans tend to practice tattoo magic, so shaving their head isn’t just for appearance, as the tattoos that some of them wear can contain spells that can have varying effects. One of the tactics of Red Wizards is to cast as a group to create one massive spell that can wipe out their enemies all at once or in larger chunks. A typical Red Wizard will cast spells that have a large area effect, meaning that anyone within the area, friend or foe, will need to think quickly or be affected. One thing about the Red Wizards is that they are known to stab their own allies in the back at times if they see an advantage in doing so. While Thayans do stick together against most enemies, they’re not above treachery by any means. It’s also common to see a bodyguard, aka a Thayan knight, with a Red Wizard if they’re traveling. The knight will typically be tattooed as well and will fight to the death to protect the wizard.
A lot of Red Wizards are fanatical in their pursuit of magic and power and don’t go down easily.
As demonologists and purveyors of magic items, Red Wizards aren’t known to be the type who like to share their spoils, and they definitely don’t want others to learn their abilities since they tend to prize their skills and spells to such an extent that they’ll fight like people possessed if anyone decides to threaten them. There is a reason why the Red Wizards are so disliked among the rest of Faerun, especially given that they don’t give anyone reason to trust them since their country has gone to war with many other countries since its inception.
Red Wizards that aren’t aggressive are outliers, but there are plenty of them that have taken to the lives of merchants.
Despite belonging to a sect that has such a bad reputation, many Red Wizards have taken to offering their spells as protection to merchant caravans, and some have even hired themselves out to those who can pay, as mages are typically in high demand. But it’s usually wise in any story to be wary of a Red Wizard since, too often, it’s been seen that they’ll be decent if they get paid and no one messes with them. But if the typical Red Wizard sees an advantage to be gained, it’s a good bet that they’ll take the money and the life of their employer to attain it.
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