"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." -C.S. Lewis.
Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, and 300 in Greek numerals. and also the name for 2 pi, and some people wish to use tau as an alternative to pi. However, this article is about the Tau (or bluies as the Valhallan 597th call them), a playable race in Warhammer 40k. When first discovered by humanity, the Tau were a barbaric and primitive people. Then their planet was trapped in a Warp storm for a few thousand years and they emerged from the other side as a unified species, led by the mysterious Ethereal caste and devoted to the concept of the "Greater Good". Their new empire is currently about the size of Ultramar and growing. Although a dystopian society in their own right, the Tau Empire is noted for being one of the LEAST awful places in all the galaxy of 40k. It's also not an Empire; the Tau government, the Ethereal caste, is essentially an edifice of meritocracy and nepotism - Tau leaders are appointed to their position by even higher ranking leaders and/or a council of their future peers; the highest ranking Tau, the Aun'O, is selected by his future underlings, much like the Catholic Pope, but is still simply considered the weightiest voice of a group, not the Supreme Leader.
The Tau started as a classic case of successful design-based trolling on the part of Games Workshop. The Tau were originally developed because Games Workshop felt their setting needed an optimistic race (and more pragmatically felt an even greater desire to start selling shedloads of 40K to the robot-obsessed Japanese), making the Tau the least grimdark faction in the game; the dudes willing to negotiate when they've beaten their enemies, when all the others are either too murderously psychotic in ways incomprehensible to anyone who does not the share the same batshit insanity, religiously overzealous, arrogantly indifferent, simplemindedly violent, murderously enigmatic, more interested in eating you than anything, or all of the above to offer such niceties.
This began to change in the 6th edition where the Tau began to take on an Orwellian flavor with the Ethereals being totalitarian autocrats performing acts of ruthless indifference to their subjects in the guise of being for the Greater Good. Recent fluff (from Dawn of War, supported by Deathwatch supplements describing Achillus Crusade) has them gleefully arbitrarily sterilizing the rebelling humans on Kronus once they come under the rule of the Tau Empire, (To be fair though, had it been anyone else, including the Imperials, they would be dead, most likely the slow and painful way, or even suffer such a terrible fate to wish death) while their Codex leaves ambiguous the question of just how much of their success is due to various forms of indoctrination, caste-based conditioning, and subtle mind control, which has only been exacerbated by the recent Farsight Enclaves supplement, which makes the Ethereals come off as mustache-twirling, Saturday-morning-cartoon villains. It speaks volumes about the 40k setting that in spite of this they're still the friendliest race in the setting.
- 1 Naive "Weeaboo Space Communists"
- 2 Military Doctrine
- 3 Non-combat Fluff
- 4 Alliances
- 5 Tau Member Races
- 6 Tau are the only race that actively pursues interspecies diplomacy dontch'aknow
- 7 In a Nutshell
- 8 TL;DR
- 9 Warhammer Fantasy
- 10 Notable Tau
- 11 See Also
- 12 External Link
- 13 Gallery
Naive "Weeaboo Space Communists"
This naivete seems at odds with the GRIMDARK-ness of the setting (and to a degree, a lot of it is), but the thing is, Games Workshop specifically plays this straight FOR the Grimdark and knows that this makes the Tau out to be hopelessly naive in their optimism - and dear god do they play this up for maximum effect. In the 41st millennium, the Tau come across as more than a little naive to the other races; the Imperium see any contact with aliens as heretical and will shoot them with Bolter slugs as soon as look at them; the Orks just want to kick the shit out of things, and the Eldar see the Tau as young, powerful because of their technology but a race in its infancy, just staggering out of its borders for the first time and wandering into a pond full of sharks.
Putting it simply, there's an ongoing joke that the Tau are some of the most successful trolling performed in the history of mankind just by existing; a case of the company installing them just to mix things up whilst at the same time keeping them surprisingly on-level.
The combination of the above fluff, however, paired with their high technology, generally "Asian" feel (their Fire Caste's combat doctrine is often reminiscent of Sun Tzu's "Art of War" - but derived from two distinct Tau hunting methods), use of battlesuits (just like the Imperium), heavy firepower which rivals that of the Imperial Guard, and one of the most broken tactics in tabletop 40K until it was finally fixed an edition later has conspired to make them very much hated (and by that we mean butthurt) by a reasonable-sized population of the 40K fan populace, and /tg/ has rightly dubbed the Tau Weeaboo (as much due to their Asian-ness as anything else) as a result (even when people can use the same logic to point to the Imperium's xenophobia, the fanatical worship of the God-Emperor, extensive use of Mecha and suicide attacks, use of suicide attacks as punishment for dishonour, and fondness for over-the-top dialogue in general,
and the immense amounts of artwork of Sisters of Battle yuri and the Living Saint being a Magical Girl in all but name and conclude that the Imperium of Man is the space equivalent of Holy Imperial Japan). As a dark twist on this inherent Asian-ness, a thread concerning lack of grimdark fan fluff on Tau led to the creation of Sept V'iet, the Viet Cong Tau.
And again in a case of much cultural confusion, the Tau are considered communists (despite being a rigorous, hierarchical, near-eugenicist class society that would drive Marx into RAGE) due to the idea of casting aside the self in favour of the Greater Good. If anything the Tau resemble more like Plato's Republic caste system crossed with the caste system of India and Star Trek's Federation (because they're the only ones in the entire galaxy who bother to try diplomacy with xenos rather than exterminate them). However, the portrayal of the Tau as the equivalent of the Federation might still be wrong, since the Tau amongst their castes practice a highly strict Eugenics (any form of breeding between different castes or species is the Tau equivalent of HERESY) and the Tau do treat their non-Tau comrades as more of second-class citizens with no say on the Tau government. Ergo, the Tau, despite being not the exterminate all other species racist, is still an aristocratic empire hiding beneath the veneer of the Federation, not unlike India under the Britannian Imperium. To be fair though, if GW does decide to up the grimderp it would be more then safe to assume they would go the way of Stalin and start flaunting fancy propaganda posters everywhere- not that the Imperium already fills that part and the drawfaggots haven't already done great work in this field. What is for sure though is that, whatever part of the one dimensional measurement line of political agenda they are on, the Tau's main, more well known government is totalitarian. This is further driven home by the fact there is a Tau splinter faction led by one of their two best generals alive, Commander Farsight of the Farsight Enclaves, whose government is a non-caste (presumedly socialist/capitalist hybrid?) meritocratic semi-democracy (the problem is, until people stop dragging him out of his self imposed exile to fight Tyranids, Orks, and other Tau, it's a dictatorship the way Optimus Prime is sometimes depicted), which is a government most certainly NOT recognized by the Tau Empire, who have finally gotten around to dispatching a fleet to fight them, imminent plot stuff that will never happen because it's always the 41st millennium, which is a good thing, thank you GW.
However the new Codex has HEAVILY downplayed their naivete, bringing back their first codex mention that the Ethereals declaring both the Orks and Tyranids as "lost causes" (took them long enough) and the Greater Good demands they be killed to the last. Furthermore, they seem to declare Eldar "lost causes" too, maybe due to their first contact with DE (Although since they're battle bros with the Craftworld one maybe it's just the Dark Eldar). At least when the Tau fleet found an Exodite world while chasing a Dark Eldar raid, they murdered every hippie-elf on the surface - they didn't even try to "talk before shoot". Then again, few people will argue the space elves don't deserve it.
The Tau disdain melee combat in favour of ranged combat which renders them instantaneously less manly in the eyes of most /tg/'s playerbase. The reasons behind this are complicated. Generally, Tau see hand to hand combat in warfare as an anachronism, which makes sense, considering their basic guns can rip apart tank side armour, and compared to almost all other major races Tau have less muscle strength and reaction speed, which makes them ineffective in CC even if they are trained. Even the last reason alone is enough to avoid CC, seeing as Necrons use similar logic, despite their Warriors and Immortals being much stronger and tougher, and actually highly trained in close combat, but equally as slow. That said, Tau do practice martial arts, but only for ritual purposes - Fire Warrior trials and rites involve knives and swords, while Ethereals have a tradition to perform a non-lethal duels to settle disputes, using sharp bladed weapons no less, so they should be crazy good with their fencing style, as Aun'Shi has shown to some unfortunate Orks.
Logistically, Tau military doctrine has been hit hard with the same stupidity nerf bat as every other fieldable army, but is the only faction for which this violates their own fluff; every other faction has some reason for their materiel to be as limited as they would be in a fantasy setting, but the Tau have widespread education, unlike Men and Orks; reasonable access to production facilities relative to their population, unlike Necrons and Eldar; and are capable of coherent research and development, unlike Tyranids and Daemons. For fluff reasons which have never been explained (the crunch reason is obvious), they have the same motif as every other army of equipment often being more valuable than the person wielding it, leading to most personnel being fielded with inferior equipment. The most obvious example of this is that they ever, under any circumstance, field infantry in combat armour rather than some sort of battlesuit - its only advantage is having less bulk, as if the Tau have a reason not to built larger transports to cope.
The Tau's superior firepower is similar to that of the Imperial Guard, but their strategy is different in that they tend to rely less on mass warfare and more on sophisticated technical support (drones, stealth technology, railguns), with an emphasis on tactical precision, mobility, and the initiative of individual squads of units, just like how modern warfare should be done (apparently if the Imperial Guard learned from Tau tacticians and fought like modern warfare instead of zergrushing everything then they would have been the most powerful army in the galaxy but no that ain't GRIMDARK and AWESOME enough(unless you're Macharius)). Their military doctrine is not based on winning by attrition and throwing out quality tactics in favour of absorbing and dishing out heavy shocks in bloody epic clusterfucks like the Imperials, Orks and early World War II-era Soviet Russia (unless you count the later war "deep warfare", which is actually the combat doctrine the Tau ripped off of, 40k really seems to like the Russians...). Rather, they use infiltration and their sophisticated battlesuits to bypass enemy strong points and launch deep into their rear, cutting supply lines and logistics, destroying headquarters and support units, leaving enemies cut off and functionally helpless. There are numerous examples of Tau literally starving and/or thirsting entire armies to death by cutting out their supply lines, while simultaneously harassing them with night raids, ambushes and air strikes to the point the survivors are leaderless, demoralized out of ammo and fuel and barely can stand due to exhaustion - Taros campaign is the prime example of these tactics (and Imperium's
tactical Strategic stupidity since that would mean they lost ALL of their supplies nah, they just couldn't deliver them to the frontlines, since ALL supply lines have being cut).
The Tau, again, boast some of the most powerful ranged weaponry on the tabletop game, and can crank out more concentrated firepower than any other faction with the lone exception of the Imperial Guard, and even then, the Tau's weapons hit quite a bit harder. They have pathetic hand-to-hand combat skills, however, and so the Tau bolster this by using several inducted races (the Kroot, Vespid, and even some Humans left behind by the Damocles Crusade) to act as buffers against assault troops to allow Tau fire warriors teams and their heavy long-ranged firepower to tear enemies apart. The perhaps most-infamous part of the Tau is their Battlesuit, which can mount multiple heavy weapon systems and provide excellent mobility, all on a fairly durable unit. They also have an extremely powerful navy, though not quite as formidable as the Imperium's, if largely because of number differences. Tau air units are among the best in the game, with aircraft superior to or equal to Imperial Guard equivalents, including a stealth fighter, multipurpose heavy fighter, a superheavy fighter with guns that can one-shot a Titan, and their own Titan-equivalent (which is a small starship). Unlike Imperium they usually deploys swarms upon swarms upon swarms of flyers, with only Orks and Necrons able to rival them in numbers when things come to air fights: kind of the way the Imperium Fleet atmospheric support craft are supposed to work, if fleet officers weren't a bunch of assholes, who does everything they can to provide as little air support as possible.
On defense, the Tau are a bit unusual: they leave only token garrisons at their colonies to protect them. These garrisons are intended for scouting rather than combat, avoiding engagement to observe and report on invaders using Pathfinders, scanning towers, and drones. Because the Tau have fairly powerful spacefleets and usually keep their forces within reasoned distance of potential hot-spots, any potential threat can be quickly dealt with by organizing a hunter cadre to deal with the situation. For those of you who doesn't get it, it's Frederick the Great's "He who tries to protect everything protects nothing" strategy. This has, however, backfired on numerous occasions, since it does mean that the Tau are a bit vulnerable on defence.
A rare advantage the Tau have is their willingness to change military strategy. As examples, look at how they changed tactics in reaction to the Damocles Crusade by the Imperium of Man, and even built an entirely new space fleet to match humans in straight-on space fights, or their unusual but effective choice of switching to older weapons when dealing with Hive Fleet Gorgon.
The Tau were a new race/culture found by the Imperium of Man during their "slash and burn" exploration of their galactic neighborhood. The Tau were still pastoral, had just discovered flint tools and charcoal, and the Imperium had them scheduled for "routine extermination" (read: genocide) to make sure they never got off-world and grew into someone that could threaten humanity. By an unfortunate coincidence which most certainly involved Tzeentch or Cegorach or something, a warp storm occluded the Tau homeworld, so nobody could get in or out. Since the Tau were virtually invisible in the warp, the Warp Storm didn't have much of an effect on them as they were immune to the influences of Chaos. The sector was labeled "lost to Chaos," and clean-up was deferred indefinitely. Only the Adeptus Mechanicus still had records of this first contact when the storm died down 6,000 years later. The Damocles Crusade found the Tau, who were completely untouched by the warp storm and now using interstellar colony ships and pulse rifles. The extermination order still stood -- but it was just going to be more difficult than they expected.
Tau history is pretty typical up through the iron-age: a knack for engineering, warfare between "urban" farmers and "barbarian" nomads, and unrestrained growth causing a series of plagues, leading to a dark age. Here's where things go sideways, though the Tau see it as the start of their endless Golden Age: the arrival of the Ethereals. Legend tells of a five-year siege at the castle of Fio'taun, with both sides starving and succumbing to disease, when two foreign Tau entered the battlefield. One went to the castle, the other to the barbarian tribes. Each of these Tau had a quiet grace and irresistible authority. In just a few hours, the castle was persuaded to open their gates, and the barbarians laid down their weapons, and both parties met to parley a truce. These strange Tau called themselves "Ethereals," and stressed the importance of peace and understanding between all Tau. They described a "Greater Good" that each Tau must strive towards. Soon after, soon enough to seem simultaneous, more of these strange new Tau emerged across the continent with their message of peace and co-operation for all Tau. Their quiet authority was always respected, and their message of harmony was universally embraced. Wait a minute, I've seen this historical pattern before....
Perhaps uniquely for the setting, Tau-human interactions bear the whiff of realpolitik. On the one hand, the Imperium wants to exterminate them eventually, but the upper management generally realizes that the Tau are going to be a giant drain of resources and manpower to get rid of, given the stiff resistance they put up in previous campaigns and their uniformly advanced technology. Furthermore, they serve as a useful buffer state against various threats on the Eastern Fringe, from ork and Chaos raiders to tyranid hive fleets to alien forces the Imperium hasn't had (recorded) contact with. Their existence deflects danger from Imperial space, and in a place and time when the Imperium is coming under attack from all sides, that's more important than dogma. The Imperium's policy in dealing with the Tau thus largely focuses on containing its expansion more than retaking its worlds.
Conversely, the Tau have realized just how massive an undertaking expanding through the entire universe would really be, and are taking it slow. They mostly absorb Imperial buffer worlds stripped of manpower and armament in the face of massive redeployments to face other threats, offering the Empire's protection in return for annexation and outright conquering the places that don't take the deal. The Tau have claimed that they are engaging in this sort of aggressive behavior because someone's going to gobble those settlements up sooner or later, and if they don't do it then whoever does won't be as nice about it. While baldly self-serving, that logic is... well, mostly correct, really.
There's no lost love between the Imperium and the Tau, but open full-scale war is probably unlikely in the near-future.
Tau society after the arrival of Ethereals was organized into castes; everyone with a place, and a place for everyone. Inter-breeding between castes has been outlawed by the Ethereals, presumably to preserve the biological differences between castes, and as part of this they have completely taken over sex entirely. Tau society has been manipulated so that Tau do not form romantic bonds of a long-lasting nature and do not even consider sex as anything other than a state-mandated act. In essence, Tau are conditioned to never have sex until and unless their superiors say they are worth breeding. Their superiors pick their breeding partners (the Tau get NO input into this) and the couple basically spends a few days off from work screwing around before going their separate ways to never see each other again. If a Tau did somehow get over their conditioning to think of sex as something only as a mandated duty, they'd be punished for illegal activities/perversion. An Imperial genetor's report in the fourth edition Tau codex observes the presence of synthetic proteins in Tau internal organs and suggests they are evidence their evolution has been accelerated, though he might have been confused by synthetic proteins that the Tau were given. /tg/ seems to be under the strong impression that they are mammals, as you can see in the picture to the right, despite the complete implausibility of this theory.
The Fire Caste are the warriors. The miniatures of a Tau army in a Warhammer 40,000 game are almost exclusively Fire caste. They are taller than Earth Caste Tau, and stronger than the Air and Water Castes, though still shorter and physically weaker than a typical Human, though they pretty much compensate for this by giving their basic Fire Warrior a pulse rifle, which is sort of like an automatic sniper-plasma gun, and employ heavily armed and sophisticated battlesuits for their elite infantry. Ohh yeah, and Railguns. Regiment-sized Tau forces are called "Hunter Cadres".
The Earth Caste are the laborers and engineers; they are the "civilians" of Tau society. Their appearance can vary widely, though other Tau would describe them as "plain." They all have a stoic outlook, with little ambition other than to excel in their career of choice and work for the "Greater Good." Unlike the Imperial worker classes, whose quality of life generally starts at working 14-hour days seven days a week while living off of Soylent Green crackers mainly formed from reprocessed dead labourer and suicide corpses and goes downhill from there, the Earth caste is mostly concerned with engineering. They have robots for the grunt work. The Farsight Enclaves fields some Earth Caste pilots for their battlesuits, representing both their more-flexible caste systems and their desperation for manpower. Doing so makes them even worse in close-combat than Tau already are, but they make up for it with technical training and tweaks to the suits' software and mechanics, re-rolling missed shots and equipment failures.
The Air Caste are the intermediaries between Tau. They served as messengers and couriers, sometimes scouts/explorers, gliding on membranous surfaces through their planet's atmosphere. When the Tau started exploring offworld, it was the Air caste that took charge of the vessels traveling between the stars, and now the Air caste is the Tau stellar navy/airforce/mailmen. Air caste Tau tend to be tall and slender like runners or dancers, and this is frequently exaggerated by the years the Tau navy spends in low-gravity. Much less likely to be eaten by daemons due to a faulty Geller Field than their Imperial equivalents, but only because their ships are much slower, using a "slingshot drive" to temporarily enter the Warp and bounce back into real space.
The Water Caste are the emissaries to non-Tau, they are diplomats, merchants, civil servants. The most open-minded Tau can be found among the Water caste, some even showing individual ambition (but still for the greater good of the Tau Empire). When a new culture is encountered, the Water caste are sent in first to negotiate. If talks break down, the Water caste are withdrawn from the area and it's time for the Fire Caste to then start negotiating with pulse weapon fire. Also, unlike their Imperial equivalents in bureaucracy, the Administratum, they are brisk, efficient, and very good at their jobs. No dumping valuable ammo on an uninhabited dust world because no one signed the paperwork not to... though, give them a few thousand years and a few million light-years, and see how that holds up.
The Ethereal Caste are the philosopher-kings described by Plato in "The Republic". They are selfless and always focused on what is best for the Greater Good ("tau'va") for all Tau and every Tau without exception. The Ethereal are inspirational to all Tau caste members, and merely being near one will inspire a Tau member to work harder. In the case of the Fire caste, some Ethereals accompany hunter cadres in battle during important deployments so as to better lead/ inspire the troops, which works because all Tau in the combat zone will fight to their bitter deaths. They also seem to have semi-magical powers (don't ask how they work, none of the Tau know themselves) that allow Tau around them to do special things, like running while shooting. The Adeptus Mechanicus theorizes that the respect the Ethereal caste gets from all other Tau is caused by a pheromone ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTAU......
Also, Xenology relates a story from a minor, insectoid race called the Q'Orl, which alleges that the Eldar stole one of their queens. Given these queens have a magic, yellow, diamond-shaped sack that produces mind-control pheromones... Well, let's just say the characters in the story figure it out quickly enough. There is a theory that Ethereal pheromones affects themselves too - it would explain why they're so selfless and uncorrupted, despite their absolute power.
|This article or section involves Matt Ward, your Spiritual Liege, who is universally-reviled on /tg/. Because this article or section covers Ward's copious amounts of derp and rage, fans of the 40K series are advised that if you proceed onward, you will see fluff and crunch violation of a level rarely seen.|
In 6th edition, Tau are notable for being one of two factions (the other being Imperial Guard) who can ally with anyone besides 'nids. Yes, this includes both Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Daemons, although, according to the Farsight Enclaves supplement,
Farsight is one of the only Tau (maybe the only one period) who actually understands the existence of Chaos, so the average Tau would consider them to be just another kind of alien. Farsight rebelled as the Ethereals understand the existence of Chaos on some level, but keep it suppressed to the general populace, so they're not entirely screwed. It still isn't going to end well though.
This leads to a few... interesting... alliances, to say the least.
First off, Tau can ally with Orks, even though they are viewed as enemies of the Greater Good to be purged whenever encountered. Smaller Ork warbands (mostly Blood Axes) frequently act as mercenaries, of course, so the Tau might use them in that capacity, plus there might be fluff changes coming up (most notably, it was rumored that the Gretchin Revolutionary Committee would return in the new Orks codex; they, of course, would get along quite well with the Tau).
They are also Battle Brothers with both Space Marines and Eldar, which has caused a large amount of headscratching on /tg/. The Eldar makes a modicum of sense; after all, the Eldar most likely had a hand in their synthetic evolution and the creation of the Ethereals, and the Eldar are well known for being expert manipulators. The Space Marines, though, are... odd, to say the least, since Tau and Space Marines are always going at it in the fluff. Of course, a minor Chapter could always find an alliance with the Tau, or even join the Greater Good, but that seems far-fetched at best.
New fluff from the Farsight supplement Old fluff from back in the 3rd edition codex tells a story of a Tau commander letting an Apothecary remove the aul glands from dead Marines, establishing that the Tau are honourable warriors in the minds of this particular chapter. Isn't too hard to guess that someone at GW felt the battle brothers thing was a bit of a head-desk move, so they tried to fix it.
The weirdest part, though, is that Tau aren't Battle Brothers with the Imperial Guard, despite (or maybe because of) the existence of Gue'vesa (Imperial Guard defectors).
7th edition corrected all of this for the tau making them only battle brothers with themselves and allies of convinience with crons and eldar the rest are desperate allies or in the case of deamons and nids come the apocalypse. This efectively "fixes" the issue, from the point of view of a buthurt puritan while still allowing for those who bought tau models to include as allies to use them in their games now even with nids.
Tau Member Races
The Tau are the only faction that willingly accept other races into their ranks. Typically the races are extended a hand from the water caste first then if they still pose a problem the fire warriors are sent in. Typically the species will keep their planet but just have to answer to the local Ethereal and possible local Shas'o. Most of them don't show up on the tabletop, but that's okay.
- Demiurg - Squats reborn. Showing what the Imperium will never do: save dead codex races. (Well, okay, they're sort of back...)
- Galgs - Employing mercenaries
- Gue'vesa - Human Auxiliaries (If the current trend goes on we may see Sisters join up with the tau, which might be an improvement for the sisters in question)
- Hrenian - Employing Light Infantry
- Ji'atrix - Voidfarers
- Kroot - Employing Carnivores led by Shapers
- Mal'kor - Vespid Auxiliaries - Employing Stingwings led by Strain-Leaders
- Morralian - Employing Deathsworn
- Nicassar - Voidfarers and the only Psyker race currently in the tau empire
- Tarellian - Employing Dog Soldier mercenaries. These guys are basically Lizardmen Saurus IIIIIINNNNN SPAAAAACCCCCEEEEE!!!!!! Not really part of the empire, but will gladly fight humans and tyranids on the cheap since the Imperium virus-bombed their homeworld before the tyranids ate their biggest colony.
- Poctroon - The first sapient species to be found by the Tau, they were "accidentally" driven extinct by Tau smallpox, and their planet just by coincidence was a great place to set a Sept World.
- Nagi - Brain Worms that, due to their horrific appearance and inability to comunicate, were attacked by the Fire Caste, they managed to sort it out and now they work with the Ethereals as advisors (cause having brain worms about as "advisors" isn't a bad idea)
The actions of the other races most notably the Imperium also serves as a factor for other races to join the Tau. While the Tau do seem a minor threat to the Imperium now if the current policy continues there will be more and more races joining up with the Tau, mostly because they don't want to be exterminated. Of course, the Tau are just coming to realize just how big and powerful the Imperium really is, and while a lot of their member races really are the victims of crazy evil fascist extermination-protocols, there's always the chance that someone responsible for a "Hell World" or "Nightmare World" might join up, and the damage might be done before they realize their mistake...
Tau are the only race that actively pursues interspecies diplomacy dontch'aknow
Tau are the only faction in the setting that actively pursue diplomatic channels with other factions. Here are some transcripts detailing some of the more typical negotiations:
Bad Moon: Oi, givez us yer shooty flash or we will crump the lotta ya!
Water Caste: Are you sure we can't interest you in these grain harvesters?
Bad Moon: Orks don't eat none a' that, we eatz squigs! Now givez uz the flash!
Water Caste: O-okay.
Bad Moon: WAAAAGGHH!
Evil Sun: Hey, we 'erd youz lot gave plasma shootas to boyz. Giv us sum a dem.
Water Caste: Well I'm sorry but we don't seem to have any left.
Evil Sun: WAAAAAAGH!
Water Caste: We would like to be the first to welcome you extragalactic travelers to our stars-OH SWEET F-!
(Or, if you believe in 6th Edition Meta...)
Water Caste: Oh dear! This is absolutely dreadful! I require the nearest deployment of battlesuits! And bring the Riptide as well!
(One battle, three dead Zoanthropes, a dozen dead Warriors, a Flyrant and a Swarmlord later...)
Fire Caste Commander: Ah, the power of the Greater Good triumphs once again! *Grinds hoof into the Swarmlord's face. Repeatedly.* It is delicious!
Water Caste: The Tau Empire is pleased to open negotiations with those that claim to be the most ancient enemies of the Chaos Barbarians.
Cron: "..." *Zap*
Trazyn the Infinite: My dear blue lady! Do you realize you are the spitting image of O-shaa-mal the Water Caste envoy who first made contact with the Imperium of Man and precipitated the Damocles Gulf Campaign? Now strike a dignified pose while I prepare a stasis grenade.
Nemesor Zahndrekh: *riiip* These clothes are terrible! In my day we had reliable stitching. *riiip* Terrible! This merchandise is a shame to Necrontyr weavers everywhere.
Water Caste: Silly robot, those clothes are for Tau.
Vargard Obyron: *Stab* You've said too much.
Water Caste #2: I hear that random strips of cloth are in fashion these days, I'll even give you a discount on those you're looking at now.
Zahndrekh: Really? Sold!
Water Caste: How would you like to pay for these spices and garments?
Noise Marine: I would like to offer a cultural exchange.
Water Caste: What type of cultural exchange?
Noise Marine: A little something I like to call *sunglasses on* Rock n' Roll.
Doom Siren: YEEEEAAAAAHHHH!
Water Caste: We would like to extend the hand of friendship to-
Farseer: Fuckoff newfag!
Water Caste: But we could help if-
Farseer: I’d rather die!
Water Caste: It is good to see an elder race taking responsibility and welcoming its juniors into the galactic community.
Archon: Yesssss. Younger races are so soft and supple; they need guidance in this harsh universe, for they sometimes do not understand the ways of their betters.
Water Caste: Sir, why have you wedged your armor's codpiece between my buttocks?
Archon: Since when were you under the impression that I was wearing a codpiece?
Water Caste: This vessel, in service to the Tau'va, hails the unkno-
Water Caste: On behalf of the Tau Empire, and the Greater Good with which we serve, we are delighted to welcome you, our new Gue'vesa, and why do you have your hands on my breastplate? What are you doing with the restraints of my brassiere?...Please stop that.
Human soldier: Hey, I didn't surrender, betray my entire species, and risk the wrath of the Inquisition just because you blueies are decent talkers.
Water Caste: *sighs* Ok, good point...for the Greater Good...I guess.
Human soldier: Whatever gets you through the next 30 minutes, sure.
Water Caste: As a representative of the Tau Empire I wish to offer you-
Angry Marine: FUCK YOU WEEABOO SPACE COMMUNIST!
Water Caste: I'm sure we could work through this anger- *PAWNCH*
Angry Marine: ALWAYS ANGRY!! ALL THE TIME!!
Space Marine: Status report, the xenos enemy have reached our positions! Let the light of the Emperor fill your hearts, brothers! Send these beasts back to the slag-hole they have- One moment... Damnation! Another foul xenos incoming! DESTROY-
Water Caste: WAAAAAIT, mighty Gue'ron'sha! I've come with offerings of cooperation and understanding! I wish no harm to you (for now anyways...)!
Space Marine: The Codex Astartes says, "Suffer not the alien to live." So--*BLAM* Xeno scum. Ending 2
Space Marine: WE'RE BUSY! YOU WANT COOPERATION, GET YOUR FORCES OVER HERE AND TELL THEM TO START SHOOTING THOSE OTHER SCUM-SUCKERS NOW!!
Water Caste: O-okay! Fire Caste, I request a deployment to my position to engage the enemy. Not the Gue'la warriors, the other ones!
Flesh Tearer: FUCK THE CODEX! YOU LOOK TASTY!
Water Caste: Honestly, I don't kno--what are you doing to my leg--AAAAARRRGGHH!!!
Flesh Tearer: OMNOMNOMNOM...
Water Caste: Most honored Alien from beyond the galaxy, well you be inter-
Q'orl: *Cricket Chirps*
Water Caste: Uhhh...why are your proboscis on my pants an-OH SWEET MERCIFUL GO-ARGHGARARARALROLRAL!
Q'orl: *Cricket Chirps*
Water Caste: Oh so Ancient race of beyond the cosmos, we the Tau will be honored if you-AKHGRGHRGHRGALALALLAL!
Dalek: EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!
Water Caste: The most kindest of Tau would gladly welcome a Empire of Gue'vesa who are more into peaceful talks then just mindless violence...
Galactic Empire: You have precisely three seconds to identify before our ships will open fire!
Water Caste: Well...Uhm...We are a Empire of Peac-*BLAM*
Galactic Empire: "Whoops", looks like my watch is fast.
Emperor Palapatine: Ohhh....the force is great in this one...
Water Caste: Well we would really appreciate if you tell us what the "Force" is most honored highne-HHHHNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGG! *Force Choke*
Emperor Palpatine: What a shame, I was about to experiment on your race's Force potential...
Water Caste: We are most honored to welcome the Slaugth into peaceful negotiations regardless of how outwardly repugnant you are.
Slaugth: Yessss, we are mosssst honored to sssspeak with ssssuch warm and inviting flessssssh.
Water Caste: Pardon, but I think you are referring to our Flesh.
Slaugth: Yesss, we speak of your flessssh. We are hungry. Ssssso very, very hungry *Surges forward like a tide of maggots* We ssssshall feassst now.
Water Caste: Please remain on your side of the roo-OH ETHEREALS IT'S EATING ME! AAAAAHHH!!!! AHHHH!!!
Slaugth: Ssssilence your criesssss. Your flessssh sssserves greater mindssss now.
Water Caste: We will be honored to join with you in destroying the so called Chaos threat/
Inquisitor: YOU KNOW NOTHING OF CHAOS EXCEPT THROUGH THE BARREL OF A GUN! YOU ARE WORSE THAN THE CULTISTS THEMSELVES! DEATH TO THE XENOS AND THEIR PETTY IGNORANCE OF CHAOS!
Water Caste: Dear Aun'Va- *BLAM*
Inquisitor: Very well, we have use for you...as fodder for the heretics as they march towards you in overwhelming force.
Water Caste: Um, I request the presence of any Fire Caste cadre within the vicinity! We have an ally that is willing to help us... *Poo lands on face* And he has pets.
In a Nutshell
- The Stated Reason Why People Hate Tau
Weeaboo space communists - not grimdark enough.
- The Real Reason Why People Hate Tau
Until the edition update, this would, most assuredly, be Fish of Fury. Fuck, even most Tau players felt this was bullshit.
And then 6th Edition codex came, and Tau became one of the shootiest armies in the shootiest edition ever, not to mention their ability to bitchslap cheesmongers, having straight counters against any of the Wardex bullshit.
- A Real Reason Why People Like Tau
The one race that isn't being a wall of dicks. If the Tau are trolling done by GW, then the target of said trolling was any fatbeard that needs a constant supply of grimdark to stay alive.
- The Real Reason Why People Play Tau
Arguably have the most powerful guns in the game. Often twin-linked. Often on cool-looking robot battlesuits. Also markerlights. Also RAPETIDE. Tau players may also have a tendency towards masochism.
- Helping Necrons? Or are they Necrontyr descendants?
An often overlooked issue is that Tau have
no warp almost no warp signatures, just like Necrons, hate Warpspawns and Warp in general (despite the fact that in 6E they can work with them...I just...I don't...WAAAARD!!!), just like Necrons, have the exact same skull shape, stature and short lives, and the overwhelming need for Technology and beam weapons, JUST LIKE NECRONS. GW may have planned a race that simply prepares a pacified, multiracial galaxy for Necrons to feast upon, supported by Ethereals that have a C'tan phase blade. Then there is a reference of "dark seed in east" by the Deceiver, so the tricky C'tan might give Tzeentch the finger in the JUST AS PLANNED competition. Or maybe GW just has so little creativity that they simply made a new civ conforming to an Old One's standards without knowing it. Given that recent murmurs have suggested that something absolutely massive is in the works at GW, anything could be possible, though past experience has led us to believe that it will simply be a Tau wearing a silly hat. However, seeing as GW is as likely to advance the plot that far as I am to shove both my legs up my ass up to the knee, it doesn't much matter.
High-tech alien race who are the least grimdark of factions. Can't melee for shit but can blow you back to the stone age with ranged weaponry if you have the misfortune of being downrange. You will either love them or hate them because of all this, and many neckbeards do feel the butthurt. Or, as the saying goes: "You can't spell TAUNT without TAU."
Unlike most other factions in 40k, Tau have no clear antecedent from Warhammer Fantasy. Some think the anime influences and rapid industrialization/militarization point towards Nippon; others feel the caste system might be related to the Kingdom of Ind. However, neither faction has ever been explored in great detail (or any detail at all), so it's impossible to say whether Tau are similar to those factions; instead, we must compare to the real-world equivalents of the Old World nations. Slightly more controversially, there are elements of Cathay (which is the Anglicized word for China back in the British Empire heyday, so yes) in the Tau. Cathay has been described as being technologically advanced (at least on par with the Empire), including terra-cotta automaton warriors (which the Chinese definitely used to make to pay homage to the First Chinese Emperor's over inflated ego, more than a millennia ago), although such comparison is stated by some to have already been implemented in the characterization of the Eldar and thus, is considered as seriously stretching up a notch.
More recently, some people connect the Tau and their subject races to other factions in Fantasy. The rapid evolution of the Kroot and the overall savagery is (somewhat) similar to the Gors of the Beastmen (although the Beastmen are in the 40k universe themselves). The Empire also shares the xenos-friendly viewpoint of the Tau, although they're not expansionistic, and decidedly a less concerned with a unified government structure so long as everyone pays their taxes, for better and worse.
- Cadre Fireblade
- Sept V'iet
- Tau Quest
- Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior
- Tau Dark Heresy
- Tau Cadre Creation Tables