Neither an Alliance, nor a Horde, Discuss


Listen, I wasn’t saying that rockets are worth more than trees, okay, I was just saying they’re a lot of fun.

Winter’s Veil is here, and it looks like my journeys will be postponed for a bit, since my spasmographer — who produces the images you see here that go along with my text — is taking vacation and won’t tell me where he’s going for fear I will follow him.

So before I continue my authoritative guide to goblins, and before I get back to Thunder Bluff to be harrassed by my relatives for a few weeks, I thought I’d talk about this little war we’re having, which happens to be somewhat about trees. At least, trees are one of the more reasonable things to fight over, being real and useful and pretty.

I am a card-carrying member of the Cenarion Circle and Expedition, as well as the Earthen Ring. Actually, it’s not a card, so much as a hippogryph with my name on its underpants, and my address so that if he gets lost he can be returned to me. And he carries me, rather than me carrying him. That’s not the point.


The point is, I actually spend a lot of time around night elves without either of us clubbing the other over the head. And naturally, the question of why is difficult to avoid. Why, they say, if the Tauren are so religiously close to Nature, do they remain allies with Orgrimmar whose relationship with trees is one of a decidedly gustatory bent? How can we conscience the aggression, as they see it, of our homeland against theirs?

There are partisan answers. You may know some of them. To many of us in Kalimdor, the Alliance looks rather more like an Empire than an alliance — the Empire of Stormwind, in which dwarves and elves answer to a human king, gnomes answer to their dwarven protectors, and the Dranei wander through the party with a politely confused expression on their priestly features, asking everyone if they’d like a set of windchimes. The Dranei think that if everyone had their own set of windchimes we’d all calm the fuck down. I … well, maybe they’re right.

Maybe if the night elves hadn’t opened fire upon sighting Thrall’s lumberjacks, maybe if they’d taken the time to explain their relationship with the forest, maybe if the Alliance had tried to negotiate a treaty to trade building materials for the more sustainable resources of Central Kalimdor — like Quilboars — while Thrall was on the throne and his faction still spoke for peace within Orgrimmar. Maybe things would have turned out the same way. Maybe not.

But none of these arguments answer the real question — the question about Tauren and nature. The question about Why the Horde.

First of all, Tauren don’t worship nature. Not in the same way the elves do. We don’t have a goddess. We don’t build temples. And trees cut down to make houses isn’t a crime to us if the house is well-used and well-loved. We can’t worship nature because we see ourselves as a part of it. Inseparable; it sees to our needs, but not without struggle, not without cost. No spiritual connection — which we have — can attenuate the need to take and transform the things around us for our survival. Indeed, the intimacy of that relationship is the basis for the spirituality that causes the elves to question our allegiances.

The destruction of eastern Ashenvale and Stonetalon is reckless, in some places wasteful, in all places tainted by the hatreds and foolishness that come with sustained, bloody conflict. But at its heart is the driving need of two people to survive — though I confess, I do not understand why the night elves claim to need every tree and animal in northern Kalimdor, yet seem to pay so little relation to them that they may as well be pretty paintings on a canvas, not the utterly basic material of their lives. The orcs are using these things shamefully, but at least they use them out of need.

Sorry, I’m being a jerk again.

So I mentioned that many of us see the Alliance as an empire. And I would suggest that most of those outside of it see the Horde as a singular despotism, a rigidly bounded tribe. A… well, a Horde. I guess. So that’s our bad. Kind of an unfortunate name, right?

The sternness — sometimes brutality — of Horde authority really comes from looseness, not rigidity. Every member of the Horde has an allegiance — or more than one — outside of it. Bloodhoof, Darkspear, even the old Fel Horde clan ancestries; ties of family, indebtedness, reciprocity, criss-cross the shapeless bulk of the Horde, give it meaning not obvious from the outside. They give it strength, and also weakness — just ask a Grimtotem where his loyalties are. Before you rip their throat out.

The Horde are a band of misfits and outcasts. A collection of nations manqué, if you’ll pardon my elvish. All of us bring an experience of weakness, of failure. All of us are looking for the kind of stability of history that people living in a place like never-conquered Ironforge take for granted. So if our manners are lacking and our civilization doesn’t seem to have much in the way of civility — which I will grant is sometimes true — it isn’t finished yet. Nor is it done.

Bloodhoof stays with the Horde because it was Thrall who helped bring our tribes to unity and security in Mulgore, from the brink of extinction at the hands of the Centaur and Quilboar. And we stay because their enemies are too-often our enemies: the same night elves who express disgust that I would ally myself with tree-cutting orcs are usually blankly surprised when I aske them why they ally with dwarves who tear whole hills apart that have stood for ten thousand years. Hills that fed my forecows.

And we stay because they need us. Perhaps more than many of them know.

Oops, sorry. I did promise, didn’t I?

Well, I won’t belabour the point. Nothing I say here is going to make any impression on any of the boisterous pinheads on any of the thrones of the world. Nor will it keep that seriously crazy little dwarf woman from stapling fawning postcards to me with a poisoned knife.

Hopefully though, it will make tons of hate mail drop through my front door in Thunder Bluff — that way, I can excuse myself from my relatives for a few hours to answer it, and be spared the joshing about my fishing skills.

Man, that shit takes time. At least there’s a daily lesson now.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 16th, 2010 at 11:51 am and is filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 Responses to “Neither an Alliance, nor a Horde, Discuss”

  1. Orduin Says:

    Perhaps I’m lucky; the Argent Crusade and Knights Of The Ebon Blade, while both holding members of the Alliance and Horde, don’t have questions like that. There’s a sort of common understanding. The Crusade recignizes that both sides get bogged down in politics and thus forget about the world-threatening baddies that often show up. And the Knights, well, we have a brotherhood, a tie between us that no politics can really remove. Andorhal may have Thassarian and Koltira battling, but you can trust me, they’ll still put themselves in danger for each other.

    Orcs go too far alot. But they’re a young people, freshly emerging from their curse of demon blood. Forsaken have it worse, their curse can’t be reversed. The best we can do is try and help them grow. Someday, we won’t be the Horde anymore.

  2. RPJ Says:

    Say what you will about the poor noble Horde, just trying to cut down some trees to build houses.

    The members of the Horde willingly aid, abet, and protect the Forsaken. Every day you don’t smash their fetid tomb of a city into the ground is a day you all grow more evil, simply by associating with them.

    But please … keep trying to tell us it’s about the trees.

  3. Sunday Morning Funnies: Middle-up Says:

    […] Travels with Tenthunders: Neither an Alliance, nor a Horde. Discuss […]

  4. Malcheza Says:

    Bah, you just want to get out of the way of the inevitable ‘Sooo, when are you going to level up and settle down?’ discussion! ‘Even _Thrall_ has a mate now and don’t you ever meet any nice tauren ladies in your travels? Would it kill you to date a tauren priest, even?’

    I usually just get the standard ‘Have you tried not being undead?’.

  5. Orduin Says:

    Frankly, the Alliance can talk smack about the Forsaken about as soon as they admit they were controlled by Prestor, Lord and Lady. Better known as Deathwing and Onyxia.

  6. RPJ Says:

    Oh you mean the dragon we killed, decapitated, and hung up to dry once we discovered her treachery?

    I don’t see Sylvanas’ head mounted outside Orgrimmar.

  7. Sunday Morning Funnies: Middle-up | Says:

    […] Travels with Tenthunders: Neither an Alliance, nor a Horde. Discuss […]

  8. Donda Wildhoof Says:

    Me, I was surprised myself when I heard that Cairne’s son Baine had repledged Tauren loyalty to the Horde. Then I heard that Garrosh Hellscream was standing RIGHT THERE, with the very same axe that had been used to murderise Cairne. It’s a very intimidating axe, and makes howling noises as it whooshes through the air.

    Everything made a bit more sense then.

    Oh, Baine might say it’s all about the need for mutual protection, and to guide and keep the rest of the Horde in check as they go down their dark paths, but really, I’m pretty sure it was all about that axe.

    One good thing (one of the only good things) that came out of the whole sorry mess is that the Grimtotem are most definitely out of Thunder Blood, Mulgore, and the Horde itself.

  9. Xelaz Says:

    Windchimes can indeed serve to calm one’s spirits. I currently own no more than five myself.
    As a draenei who has lived as long as I have, I can see that this war is an unnavoidable, natural thing. Conflict and chaos serve to shape the world and teach it’s inhabitants a lesson in adaptability. When looking at it up close I can understand that the encroachments and the bloodshed are stressful. However, it’s important to realize that no matter what you do, the wind you feel on your face, the water you drink, and even the dirt under your feet will remain forever emotionally unmoved by your cries for vengeance. The only truth anyone can glean from

  10. Xelaz Says:

    this war is change.

  11. Tenthunders Says:

    Malcheza, you remember how my last date worked out.

    As for the Forsaken, well — Undercity showed that we can take care of our own problems. They have important choices to make, and they do so from the unenviable position of having been killed but prevented from passing on. The presence of Forsaken priests under the Argent banner, including veterans of the battle of Light’s Hope, puts the lie to the idea that we know all we need know about them.

    I can’t say I agree with Xelaz’ perspective on war, but then he is very old, so I dunno. It seems to me you fight when you have to, not because it’s good for you. Me, I seldom find it good for me, which is why when I absolutely have to boff someone I wear as much metal between me and them as I can find, and even then I prefer to do the healing thing.

  12. Dallanna Says:

    I’ve written a response to your post on my own blog, since I wasn’t sure if it would fit or not.

  13. Mahna Says:

    Mahna no think that hanging Banshee Queen head outside of Org do any good. Mahna once saw a abomina… obamina… a bimbo’s head on table in Undercity once and its eye kept moving. Mahna think that if we stick the banshee queen head on a stick she would just keep talking poisons.

  14. Machar Says:

    With regard to eastern Ashenvale, I feel I should point out that it’s not in Orcish nature to negotiate or compromise. When we want something, we take it. TS to the night elves. They started it when they used their trees as hiding places for their snipers. Don’t get me wrong, I like trees. And we know not to take more than we need. But right now, the end of Azeroth seems to be any day now, and we need a lot of stuff to feed and equip our army.

    What is a problem is that the land might not be there in a hundred years due to the scorched earth practices. Normally, metal rust and trees regrow, but I dunno about this time around. Especially with the new goblin ‘environmental engineers’ strip mining everything in sight. I’d do something about it, but the new golf course in Azshara kicks ass. I’m competing in the Kalimdor Invitational in the summer, and I have a four o’clock tee time today.

    Eh. My son is pretty good with an axe. I’ll make him do it.

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