Deep within the Eastern Fringe on the far frontier of the galaxy lies the Tau Empire. It is a nation dedicated to a single goal: the pursuit of a utopian ideal that, in the face of a hostile and dying galaxy, borders on extreme arrogance or outright insanity. Yet to the Tau, there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome, no challenge too great, so long as the five castes of the Tau commit themselves wholly to The Greater Good.
This philosophy has been the guiding principle of the Tau since before even the foundation of their Empire. For a Tau to willingly reject it is almost unthinkable. And yet, that is exactly what happened when the legendary Shas’O Vior’la Shovah Kais Mont’yr, known to his soldiers as Commander Farsight, abandoned The Greater Good – a mysterious betrayal from which the Tau Empire has never truly recovered. In trying to explain this unprecedented treason, the Tau leadership caste, the Ethereals, point to O’Shovah’s independent nature and fierce temperament amid his meteoric rise through the ranks of the martial Fire Caste. His remarkable physical skills, eidetic memory, and tremendous determination entitled him to a place among the Empire’s most promising new cadets.
But it was his ability to retain tremendous amounts of data from his experiences and use that knowledge to predict and counter an enemy’s plans that made him a true prodigy. During the conflict against the Arachen, O’Shovah again distinguished himself and earned a place amongst the armored elite of the Fire Caste as a pilot of a Tau Battlesuit. The war instilled in him a level of discipline, but was not enough to truly quell his predilection for close quarter combat. This proved a vital asset when O’Shovah took part in an attack on the Arachen’s leadership, ending the war in a single stroke. His achievements even gained the notice of the venerable Commander Puretide, a warrior renowned for his brilliant tactics in earlier campaigns against the Orks and the fringe elements of the Imperium. Under Puretide’s tutelage, O’Shovah mastered every aspect of the Tau art of war and it would not be long before he was tasked with putting this knowledge into practice.
When newly established Tau colonies on the world of Arkunasha were threatened by an immense Ork WAAAGH, O’Shovah conducted a masterful defense. He fought on favorable terrain that neutralized the numerical advantages of the Orks, systematically targeted what passed for their leadership, and through a unique application of psychological warfare even turned rival Ork Warbands against one another. By the end of the War, O’Shovah had gained such a knowledge of the Ork’s psychology that he was able to predict their every move. Labelled “Farsight” for these almost supernatural instincts, he was successful in evacuating most of the civilian population but his inability to completely retake the planet would haunt him for years afterwards and foster a resentment towards the leadership of the Tau Empire for failing to effectively support his campaigns. During the Damocles Crusade, Commander Farsight again displayed his natural aptitude for warfare, this time against the much more powerful and capable forces of the Imperium of Man.
Combining the callousness towards life that Farsight had first encountered in the Orks with much more sophisticated technologies and tactics, the Imperium was a colossal power that the Tau could not hope to endure indefinitely. After tremendous losses on both sides, the Imperium, faced with far greater threats elsewhere, finally withdrew under a tenuous truce with the Tau. While they had survived against the overwhelmingly powerful Imperium, the notion of the Tau’s inherent superiority over the universe had been rocked to its core. To help repair the growing rift in Tau society, the Ethereals selected Commander Farsight to lead a great new expedition to reclaim the worlds they had lost during the Damocles Crusade and more importantly, to serve as a hero who the Empire could unite behind; a single figure to rekindle the spirit of expansionism and the triumph of The Greater Good.
When the Farsight Expedition, as it came to be known, departed for the frontiers of explored space, it represented the single largest concentration of warships, troops, and equipment ever assembled by the Empire. While some within the Ethereal council remained unconvinced that Farsight could possibly live up to the enormous expectations placed on him, the opening moves of his expedition were nothing short of miraculous.
Much of the Imperium’s forces had been redeployed elsewhere and with the insights O’Shovah had gained into Imperial strategy, his victory was assured. Tau propaganda elevated Farsight to a place of honor alongside the greatest heroes of the Empire. Not since the time of his mentor, Commander Puretide, had the Tau been so united by the actions of a single figure. When the last of the distant Tau colonies had been retaken, the entire region was named the Farsight Enclaves in his honor. The Tau were not the only race to have taken advantage of the Imperium’s diverted attention however. Orks had also spread across the area and Farsight was determined to eradicate them. While the Empire’s propaganda attributed this decision to O’Shovah’s military genius, the truth was that these efforts had not been authorized and Farsight was now acting in direct defiance of the Ethereal Council’s wishes. As Farsight pushed deeper and deeper into Ork territories, the Ethereals finally decided that his obstinance could no longer be permitted and it was necessary to remove him from command.
Before this order could be relayed across the great distance now separating the Council from Farsight, disaster stuck. On Arthas Moloch, a desolate world marked by the ruins of some long vanished civilization, Farsight’s armies were attacked by a terrifying enemy of a kind the Tau had never before encountered. Worse yet, the attack had resulted in the death of every Ethereal advisor who had accompanied the expedition. Without their spiritual leadership and separated from the remainder of the Empire, the Farsight Enclaves were cast into confusion and despair. O’Shovah himself was forever changed by the encounter and it is said he abandoned his battlesuit to live a simple life in the searing wilderness of a distant world.
Contact between the Tau Empire and the Farsight Enclaves grew sporadic and then stopped completely. Probes sent to re-establish contact never returned. In time, the Empire was forced to admit that their attempts to reconquer their lost colonies had likely ended in failure and O’Shovah had almost certainly succumbed to old age. Billions across the Empire mourned the passing of their greatest hero and his glorious campaign to extend the light of The Greater Good to distant stars. Yet decades later, the truth was finally revealed. A single probe returned to the Empire intact and brought with it images of great Tau colonies that had somehow not only survived but flourished, in spite of the absence of the Ethereals and their guidance. Farsight’s reputation across the Empire was destroyed overnight. Every image of him was banned and every monument destroyed. The Farsight Enclaves were declared a Forbidden Zone and contact was strictly off-limits to even the highest leadership of the Tau. Within the Empire, O’Shovah’s remaining supporters were jailed or forced into hiding and the Ethereals made every effort to destroy Farsight’s legacy and obscure his role in the history of the Tau’s expansion.
Yet the Farsight Enclaves remain and reconnaissance of the region has yielded few answers and raised many more questions. Word has filtered back to the Empire and the Ethereals that Farsight still lives and that he fights once more alongside his people, wielding a blade of unknown origin. How he might have extended his life well beyond that of any other Tau remains a mystery and it is far more likely that someone else has simply taken up his battlesuit and perhaps his name. Regardless, the greatest questions remain. What could cause O’Shovah to turn his back on the Empire he loved so deeply? What secrets did he uncover on Arthas Moloch that could destroy his faith in the Ethereals? Is he the true savior of the Tau, or perhaps the unwitting pawn of a far greater power? If Commander Farsight still has some role to play it must be discovered soon, the hour has grown late…
and the galaxy burns. In Dossier, the Templin Institute investigates the legendary figures from alternate worlds. If you have a suggestion for a future episode, let us know in the comments section and if you’d like to support us directly, a link to our Patreon can be found in the description..