Archives of Candlekeep: Some Call Her… Tasha
This article was first broadcast in Episode One Hundred Thirty-three on 9th September 2020.
Killer DM: Anthony, darling, nice of you to join us here. You’re a detective sort, so tell me, why has Ostron been hiding these notes away when they’re clearly about the best wizard ever?
Tony: Oh, yeah, I’ve heard about what happens when Ryu puts on the hat. Besides, it looks like he wasn’t hiding them, he just put them under this book so they wouldn’t blow away.
Tony: Uh, yeah, I guess, you can take that back now. Oh, and I’m a lawyer by the way, not a detective.
Killer DM: Another Rules Lawyer? Fine. With the organ donor not around, I guess you’ll do. Tell me, are your kidneys original?
Tony: Not a rules lawyer, just a regular one.
Killer DM: Oh, well, the specifics don’t matter to me. It’s what’s on the… inside… that counts.
Lennon: You have medical insurance, right Tony?
Tony: I mean, last I checked.
Lennon: Perfect! Just making sure… Anyway given that she thinks they’re the best wizard ever I imagine we’re talking about Ascerack today? Oh, no, wait, Halaster Blackcloak, right?
Killer DM: Why would I waste my time with those try-hards? One of them went insane and the other one died, hardly the traits of success and superiority. Also, misogynist, much?
Lennon: All right, all right, fine, who are we talking about then.
One of the few legendary characters attached to magic that doesn’t fall into the “old white man” category is this wonderful woman. Now, her birth name was Natasha, but she didn’t let herself be limited by that. She gained incidental fame using the name Tasha, but she really came into her own as a strong independent woman using the name Iggwilv.
Now, I know what everyone’s thinking, how can you say this is an independent woman; she was working with partners and mentors most of her career. And really that just shows you have no respect for the struggle of a strong woman in a man’s world.
So, to put it delicately, what the Killer DM is alluding to is that Iggwilv has a reputation of being something of a black widow. But we’ll get to that, we need to start at the beginning. Tasha, which I’ll use for now because that other name sounds way too much like someone trying to read Welsh phonetically, is from the Greyhawk setting and was a creation of Gary Gygax himself. Because she was created that early and was part of Greyhawk it does mean that there are a number of contradictory pieces of information about her, so this covers the major events that most people agree are canon. Her most common physical form is a humanoid woman with pale skin; long, straight, black hair; black eyes; and a conventionally attractive body.
As a child she was apparently “adopted” by the demigod Baba Yaga, that’s the one with the chicken-legged hut, and adopted is in quotes because most sources agree it probably wasn’t entirely at the will of whoever Tasha’s parents were. At a base level she’s apparently a human, but the number of things that happened from Baba Yaga on put a lot of caveats on that. Baba Yaga taught her a lot of magic and she acquired the name “Natasha the Dark” during her time there.
300 years prior to the current Greyhawk timeline, she reappeared in the Greyhawk land of Ket, calling herself Hura. Apparently she was there because of being run off from another locale where she plundered a vault of the god Daoud and made off with a powerful artifact.
Now this is where I need to school you all on how to get ahead. See, after all that she showed up in Greyhawk, calling herself Tasha, and got herself apprenticed to the wildly famous mayor of the city, Zagig. That apparently raised a lot of eyebrows but honestly those people were probably jealous. If a beautiful woman comes in and gets an apprenticeship with a guy that literally didn’t take on any apprentices before that and you start making assumptions about why he agreed to it, really, that’s on you.
Anyway, she hung around with Zagig and traveled with his boy band, the Company of Seven, and that’s where she got her legacy started. See, while learning from Zagig, who some people say was the best wizard in the multiverse other than Vecna, she came up with Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, and published her first Demonomicon! All that while helping Zagig imprison a demon Lord!
Um, it says here in the notes that the Demonomicon was actually called the Tome of Zyx and Tasha stole it from Zagig after secretly working with the demon lord Fraz-Urb’luu while he was imprisoned.
Yes, but who is in control of the message here? Zagig was in charge of Greyhawk, of course he’s going to try to take credit for what the woman did. Plus he went on to become the god of insanity in Greyhawk so how reliable a source is he, really?
Right, well, after separating from Zagig, Tasha was apparently on the quest for a replacement, so she went to the tomb of a wizard named Tsojcanth and bound his spirit to her service. Her relationship with the dead wizard apparently not being fulfilling enough, for an encore she decided to summon and seduce the demon lord Graz’zt, with whom she eventually had a son.
Killer DM: I’m sensing some judgement here.
Lennon: No, no, she just has…interesting preferences for romantic companions.
Anyway, with Graz’zt’s help she conquered the area known as the Perrenland in the space of a year, using the name Iggwilv. Apparently there was some genuine affection there because Graz’zt gifted her a magic cloak made of pit fiend hide, called the Fiend’s Embrace.
Unfortunately the honeymoon period in that relationship ended 10 years later. Graz’zt escaped her control, then suggested she use her enslaved wizard spirit to seal the rapidly expanding hole to the Abyss she’d created when she summoned the demon lord. Tsojcanth used that attempt to actually fight back for the first time…well ever, and that weakened Iggwilv enough that she barely survived a subsequent attack by her former lover, Graz’zt. She managed to defeat and banish his physical form and send him back to the Abyss, but it’s said her body was a mess afterward and her true physical form from then on became that of a hunched and hideous old woman, with the more attractive visage she usually used manifesting only because of magic.
People thought she was actually dead after that, but you … can’t keep a powerful, independent woman down.
And for those of you claiming she only got where she was because of men helping her I’m pleased to tell you she took her act solo after the mess with her jealous exes. About a century after the mess with trying to benevolently rule Perrenland, Iggwilv and her daughter, a vampiress named Drelzna, were trying to protect all the money and magical artifacts Iggwilv put away for safe keeping, and the self-important gits the “Circle of Eight” sent a bunch of people to stop them. Then the same group sent this poser named Tenser to mess her day up again a few years later with an artifact called the Crook of Rao. I’m guessing he wasn’t the only crook in that crowd.
Tony: No, no, Rao is a god, not one of the adventurers. And in the “poser’s” defense, she was trying to summon a bunch of fiends to the material plane.
KDM: Of course they’d say that. I swear, a girl does one thing that’s misconstrued and that’s their “thing” forever. Like, I don’t always kill Ostron and take his kidneys, do I?
Tony: No…sometimes you just kill him.
Killer DM: See? Slander and libel.
Tony (lawyer mode activated): Well, I think you’ll find that—
Lennon: Woah, woah. Trust me. You don’t want to do that. Not unless you want to become Gath’s latest patient.
Anyway, in an apparent attempt to rebuild her family, sometime after the first attempt the Circle misplaced the Crook, and Iggwilv summoned a bunch of fiends, then put them in command of her son, Iuz, which was the catalyst of the Greyhawk Wars, essentially a Greyhawk version of a world war. While that was going on, Iggwilv tried to reconcile with her ex, Graz’zt, but this time the demon prince insisted rather forcefully that she come to his place instead and try to take part in some of his hobbies, like torture and pain. She was eventually rescued by Teurny, a nalfeshnee demon who hated Graz’zt. They teamed up because apparently she was on the rebound.
Right, well, Iggwilv and Teurny made their way to one of Iggwilv’s bases on the moon … and tried to open another portal from the Abyss to reinforce her son’s forces in the material plane, but annoying adventurers ruined her day again, and the two decided to go their own way.
Tony: This doesn’t look like Ostron’s handwriting… Did you edit his notes?
Killer DM: Let’s not dwell on irrelevant details.
Anyway, after all that Iggwilv set herself up in the Grey Wastes, a subset of the outer plane of Hades. In the current static lore of D&D she doesn’t have any particular goals or plans, but really I think she’s just biding her time and the simple-minded men who write the histories can’t fathom what she’s doing unless it’s right in their faces.
Killer DM: Anyway, you need to cover more people like her going forward. I mean, who needs Mordenkinda when you’ve got this deliciously delightful girl?
Lennon: You did read the part where she’s regularly summoning demons from the Abyss into the material plane, right?
Killer DM: So they say. How do we know this Tenser wasn’t trying to do that and she stopped them.
Tony: Well…I mean Tenser’s two most famous spells let people carry things and survive in combat, and her spell drives people insane with laughter.
Killer DM: Spreading joy throughout-oh you know what I just can’t even with you both right now.
(hat pops off)
Ryu: Okay, we should go to the scrying pool now.
Lennon: Um, Ryu? Is that-
Ryu: Look, I was only able to make that save because she couldn’t figure out what spell to cast. The more we stay on this subject, the more chance she’ll come back. So Listeners! Questions! Subject change!