Tanith First (And Only)
"Cartref yw cartref, er tloted y bo. - Home is home, however poor it may be."
- – Welsh Proverb
"Happy are those whose walls already rise!"
- – Aeneis, Virgil
The Tanith First (And Only) are an Imperial Guard regiment founded on the forest planet Tanith. Tanith was home to the famous Nalwood trees, rumored to roam her forests, causing hapless travelers to become helplessly lost. This granted Tanith's population an inborn sense of direction, as well as an uncanny ability to camouflage themselves. Both of these skills have proven invaluable over the history of the regiment.
The Tanith people are predominantly Celtic, a mixture of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish as evidenced by their common appearances(Black Irish - pale skin, blue eyes and dark hair), in addition to their frequent use of bagpipes on the battlefield to boost morale, their names (The Scottish Mk- prefix and Welsh l's, y's and w's), woad tattoos and Sgian-dubh-style silver knives. Even the dark, mysterious forests of their lost homeworld is a nod to the ancient Roman descriptions of Scotland and Ireland.
The Tanith First and Only are largely the subject of Dan Abnett's acclaimed Gaunts Ghosts series, starting with the aptly named(When it was originally published)"First And Only".
Sabbat Worlds Campaign
To bring a long story short, Tanith was destroyed by the forces of Chaos just shortly after they finished mustering three regiments (We did it before it was cool to do so, Cadia). Only one full regiment was able to make it off planet. With no functioning command staff, due to them being very much dead, a Colonel-Commissar by the name of Ibram Gaunt was assigned to look after the regiment. Gaunt was promised that if he led them to glory in the campaign, he and his regiment would be granted one of the conquered worlds for them to keep as New Tanith. Naturally they become complete badasses, known for taking missions deemed too suicidal even for space marines, and coming out stronger than ever. They haven't gotten that world yet though.
Thus begins 20 years (16 books and counting) of complete awesomeness. Whereby the Tanith accomplish things such as assassinating a Segmentum Commander, take and subsequently destroy a chaos corrupted STC producing Chaos-infected Men of Iron, and participate in many apocalyptic level battles on chaos infested worlds.
It should also be noted that the series as a whole started as Grimdark, but as early as the second book, moved away from it considerably. While many elements still exist, for the most part, it is downright heroic fantasy compared to many publications in the 40k universe. To put as a comparison, in general, while a lot of major characters die throughout the series, in each book, generally, the unit as a whole ends up BETTER off than it did at the beginning of the book... With exceptions...
Notable Ghosts (Spoilers through His Last Command)
Command and Medical Staff
- Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt: See his page.
- Adjutant Brin Milo: The only civilian survivor from Tanith, he is chosen as Gaunt's personal adjutant after covering him from Chaos warriors using a mounted gun during the escape from the doomed planet. Milo seems to have a knack for knowing just the right thing to do, though he insists he's not a psyker and even a suspicious Inquisitor can't prove it. He plays the bagpipes and keeps Ghost morale up. Joins the rank and file when he reaches 18 and immediately proves himself in the field. After the events on Herodor he leaves as a member of Saint Sabbat's personal retinue.
- Adjutant Dughan Beltayn: Replaces Milo as Gaunt's personal assistant. Top-notch Vox operator. Beltayn is a rather shy soldier, but he proves himself many times over in Gaunt's service, especially during their 18 month stint behind enemy lines on Gereon.
- Colonel Colm Corbec: A soldier of no particular rank, he was immediately promoted to Colonel after the death of the rest of the officers on Tanith due to the other men's trust in him. One of the oldest and biggest men in the regiment, with a shaggy beard and fabulous mane of black hair, and always ready to lead from the front. He held off a horde of chaos cultists with a lasgun and a flamer. BY HIMSELF. Or that other time when he found a GIANT FUCK OFF DAEMON and he requested a orbital strike against it, just to make sure he got it. Good friends with Gaunt and well-liked by his soldiers due to his charisma, courage, and skill. [Spoilers to come] Finally went down on Herodor at the barrel of the sadistic, Chaos-indoctrinated Trooper Cuu, while defending the newly reincarnated Saint Sabbat. Buried in a Nalwood coffin.
- Major Elim Rawne: An unsavory, cruel, but extremely effective individual at first, Rawne comes from the criminal underbelly of Tanith. Spent years as a Gaunt-hating malcontent, loathing the Colonel-Commissar for depriving him of the chance to die uselessly in defense of his doomed world. Rawne is usually able to put aside his hatred of Gaunt to complete the mission at hand, at least after the First-and-Only's initial deployment, and after spending 18 months on Gereon sabotaging Archenemy operations together, the two are almost friends. Had a short-lived romance with his personal sniper, the Verghastite Jessi Banda, before the mission to Gereon. Unofficial head of the Tanith troops, following Corbec's death, and first among equals with Kolea and Baskevyl.
- Major Gol Kolea: Kolea served his time as the ultimate blue-collar worker, a miner underneath Vervunhive, until the world literally fell down around him. He emerged from the caves and through force of personality ended up leading a guerilla scratch company of other workers in the hive war. He was given the rank of Sergeant after joining the Tanith. Quickly becomes besties and rivals with Varl. He assumed his children were killed during the shelling of the hive along with his wife, but discovered later that they had survived and were being raised by Tona Criid and Dermon Caffran, the former then a trooper under his own command. He resolved to tell Criid, but had the better part of his brain gauged out by xeno flechette rounds while rescuing her on Phantine. He continued service (what the fuck, Imperium?) as a skilled but mentally-deficient trooper with his former unit, until Saint Sabbat herself restored him on Herodor. Notably, the physical damage to his brain was not actually healed, but he regained his old self anyway. Made Captain following this, and was given the rank of Major when Gaunt and Rawne left on the Gereon mission. Unofficial head of the Verghast troops. Dies when his son becomes a daemon engine.
- Major Braden "Bask" Baskevyl: Attached to the Tanith during their temporary merger with (later absorption of) the Belladon 81st. Jovial, with too much imagination, ready to defy orders when he thinks he can be more effective himself. Unofficial head of the Belladon troops.
- Commissar Viktor Hark: Originally a more by-the-book commissar and foil to Gaunt, ready to BLAM soldiers at a moment's notice, with a plasma pistol instead of a bolt pistol. Still smart enough to notice when everyone else around is ready to frag him in return. Hark is sent to oversee the end of Gaunt's career after he is scapegoated for a catastrophe on Hagia - one that is the fault of Lord General Lugo. He proves himself to the Ghosts during their battle at Shrinehold and joins the regiment permanently, quickly adapting to fit in with the well-disciplined troops. Has his arm blown off by xenos on Herodor, and shows the changes to his commissaring style on Ancreon Sextus, where he refuses to shoot fleeing tank crews (Because if they're more scared of the enemy than the commissar's gun, they're not of any use) but executes their incompetent commander instead. Feels a certain amount of personal responsibility for sending Sergeant Soric off to the black ships...
- Junior Commissar Nahum Ludd: Though wet behind the ears and somewhat jumpy, Ludd stands up for Gaunt and company after they escape Gereon and prevents their summary execution. He is attached to Gaunt to keep an eye on him, and gets his taste of combat and commissaring on Ancreon Sextus. He joins the Ghosts permanently following this. Becomes a methhead.
- Chief Medic Tolin Dorden: An old medic able to patch up any guardsman and send them back into the fight like a Necron Lord with a res-orb. Likely the oldest member of the regiment, old enough to have delivered Colonel Corbec, which is badass considering the ultra-high risk infiltration missions the Ghosts get sent on. Still getting shit done while suffering from a terminal state cancer. Was complimented for his fearlessness by a White Scar Space Marine.
- Medic Ana Curth: Curth was a medicae from a relatively well-to-do Vervunhive family. She was able to adjust to wartime conditions on the fly once Ferrozoica attacked. After the war, she felt her talents would better serve the Imperial Guard than the crippled hive. Developed a real chip on her shoulder due to the pressures of the Gereon mission, which has stopped the romantic tension between her and Gaunt from ever really being developed.
Captains and Sergeants
- Captain Ban Daur: Daur joined directly out of the Vervunhive military, and by keeping his rank, became the Tanith's first captain. He's been surpassed by many who joined with or after him, but doesn't seem to mind, as he is very effective where he is. A pretty-boy from the upper crust of Vervunhive, Daur has some stick-in-the-mud tendencies, but has been known to let loose (even to the point of joining one of Varl and Rawne's scams), and is liked and respected.
- Captain Dohon "Shoggy" Domor: Domor started as a lowly but skilled minesweeper, and earned his nickname when his flechette-blasted eyes were replaced by bulky, amphibian-looking augs after one of the Ghosts' early deployments. The Shoggy was an amphibian native to Tanith, you see. Shoggy is an effective leader and skilled engineer who gradually makes his way up the ranks through consistent solid showings.
- Captain Flyn Meryn: Ruthless, mean, and self-serving, Meryn takes his notes from Rawne. He's a good leader, even given command over an infiltration squad on Phantine, which is why he makes it to Captain. Unlike Rawne, he is not given a dose of reality from a mission like Gereon, and when the Ghosts are taken off the front lines, well, idle hands...
- Captain Ferdy Kolosim: Ferdy was the leader of the Belladon recon troopers, but could not hold a candle to Mkoll (but who can?). Seems to have been relegated to more regular duties after Mkoll's return, along with most of the recon troopers.
- Captain Lunny Obel
- Captain Arcuda
- Scout Sergeant Oan Mkoll: Though technically only a sergeant, Mkoll is one of the most important officers in the Tanith and one of Gaunt's most trusted confidants. As master of the incredibly stealthy scouts, Mkoll has been responsible for such feats as singlehandedly killing a blinded Chaos Dreadnought (with the help of some hostile flora), crawling across the surface of a Phantine dome for two days through toxic gas and personally booby trapping the Chaos warlord there, and outstealthing and killing a Dark Eldar Mandrake who he only grudgingly admitted was "good." The Mandrakes were not quite as over-the-top in skill and power at that point, but still an impressive feat for a single guardsmen. Manages to trick, in a drill, alone, two Space Marines to "die" with him and his explosives. And he only gets more impressive...
- Sergeant Tona Criid: Criid was a teenaged ganger during the hive war on Verghast, and managed to keep two "orphaned" children (Kolea's kids) alive for the duration... with Caffran's help. She joined the Tanith as a trooper following that war, rose to Sergeant after Kolea's injury, and keeps the rank once he's back. Criid is a punkish woman who kicks all kinds of ass, including those of her insubordinate troops when necessary. All while raising two adopted kids not much younger than she is. Better parent than The Emperor. She and Caffran are the first real "Confirmed Couple" among the Tanith.
- Sergeant Ceglan Varl: Class clown, fast talker, and lovable dickhead, Varl was one of the first line troopers to make rank. Despite his bionic shoulder, Varl has carny-level skills at sleight-of-hand and loves to scam other guard units at games of "chance." He is also an exceptionally brave and competent fire team leader. Even managed to talk the straight-and-narrow Captain Daur into participating in one of his schemes on Balhaut.
- Sergeant Dermon Caffran: Perhaps the Anti-Meryn. Initially a member of Rawne's mob, but instead of becoming one of the malcontents, he distinguished himself through excellent work. Including (accidentally) forcing the surrender of a Chaos warlord. He's the best shot with a missile launcher (or "tread-fether," as the Tanith call them) in the regiment. Honestly pretty astounding that it took him nearly a dozen years to make Sergeant.
- Sergeant Agun Soric: Soric is a smeltery foreman on Vervunhive when the war breaks out, and like Kolea, ends up leading a scratch company of guerillas... though inside the city instead of along its fringes. Another popular war hero, Soric is promoted to Sergeant upon joining the Tanith. After a grievous injury, he begins knowing things he shouldn't know, revealing in delirium that he's the seventh son of a seventh son of a witch (but definitely not a psyker or anything, no), and saving Colm Corbec from a blood infection. His uncanny knowledge crops up more and more after that, usually appearing in message shells that he's apparently written to himself. His advice is critical to saving Saint Sabbat on Herodor, but he ends up sent away on a black ship for his troubles since he's a beta level psyker. (Fine way to treat your heroes...)
Scouts, Snipers, and Troopers
- Scout Trooper Macharius "Mach" "Lucky" Bonin: Bonin is one of the best among the excellent scouts in the Tanith, after Mkoll and Mkvenner. He's notably lucky, managing to survive falling off Heritor Asphodel's fucking chaos spire on Verghast with a broken spine, making it through the crash of a dropship, and escaping in the confusion after he's lined up to be sacrificed for a Chaos warlord. This man simply will NOT FUCKING DIE. He has a 1++ save at everything. He will walk through shit that'd give Spehss Mehrines a bad day, and come out the other side with a shit eating grin.
- Master Sniper Hlaine "Mad" "Larks" Larkin: The best marksman among the Tanith. Also quite flighty and crazy, prone to migraines, seizures, and hallucinations, until his time on Gereon scares him sane. The oldest surviving Tanith combatant and a slim, small man, he is still able to put a hot shot round through the eye of the Archenemy from a kilometer away at times. Larks is known for making witty monikers, like coming up with the nickname "Gaunt's Ghosts." Very superstitious, he claims to only trust things he can see through his scope, which has enabled him to do such things as see through Eldar illusions. Once was visited by a statue-turned-angel on the battlefield who threatened to kill him for desertion, but ultimately helped him complete his mission... if any of that was real. Being friends with Larkin seems to be a kiss of death, this notably includes his best friend "Try Again" Bragg, whose death sparks off a feud with Trooper Lijah Cuu. It gets bloody.
- Scout Trooper Mkvenner: If Ollanius Pius, Leman Russ, Sly Marbo, and Konrad Curze all devoted their genes to a cloning experiment designed to create one of the most badass humans to walk the earth, the outcome would be Scout Trooper Mkvenner. Formerly Mkoll's second in command until he went AWOL to personally make an ENTIRE CHAOS HELD PLANET his personal toy to fuck around with, Mkvenner spent his time being the Ghosts resident inscrutable badass. In his career as a Ghost, Ven has done such minor things as slaughter an entire squad or two of Blood Pact soldiers with just the Straight Silver on his lasrifle (which was out of ammo), be personally healed by a fucking reincarnated Saint Sabbat, bail Gaunt's ass out by talking to some weird tribe of Moth Savages who live in a completely hostile swamp where everything is poisonous (possibly Australia), and fight two fucking DAEMONS to a stand still (once again, just using Straight Silver, also possibly hoping to crush them with his ceramite balls). After his time spent slapping the Chaos troops on Gereon around until the rest of the Guard arrived, Ven proceeded to play dead, and bust the Moth Savages and Gereon Resistance out of Imperial custody when it turns out the Inquisition wanted to be a raging dick hole (what a shock, I know). Has now vanished again, until such a time as Horus comes back from the dead. At that point, it will most likely be Mkvenner who Ollanius Pius's that fucker. Mkvenner is probably the emperor's spirit in a flesh puppet, whilst the big E himself sits on the Golden Bidet. Probably still on Gereon slapping chaos troops around. Also he's a Wood Jedi.
- Trooper "Try Again" Bragg: One of the only heavy weapons Guardsman who made Space Marines look like pussies. His poor aim gives him the nickname "Try Again," but when you can haul around an autocannon around on your own, who needs to aim? Bragg is typically a gentle giant (except to the Archenemy) who enjoys nothing more than brewing the Tanith's signature booze, sacra, but he's strong enough to cave in skulls with a punch, and sharper than he seems. Bragg's moral compass leads him to turn in Trooper Lijah Cuu for circumstantial reasons when Caffran is accused of murdering civilian. But when Cuu is (incorrectly) exonerated and merely flogged for looting, he comes after the big guy on the battlefield of Phantine. Bragg still almost manages to decapitate Cuu with a swung ammo case, even with a warknife through his heart.
- Flame Trooper Brostin:
- Adjutant Murtan "Murt" Feygor: Rawne's second hand man, and another nasty career criminal from the cities of Tanith. Feygor is quite handy with explosives and controlled detonations. No less than three throat injuries led to the replacement of his larynx with an augmetic voicebox that makes him sound perpetually sarcastic. Not much of a change, since sarcastic is his default setting.
Playing the Tabletop
First of: Although one of the most beloved Imperial Guard Regiments, Games Workshop still doesn't manage to produce rules to really allow playing
a the regiment of Gaunt's Ghosts. However, if you are willing to work around some things, it is possible.
Here are a couple of recommendations:
- Playing Yarrick as Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt is a solid (yet obvious) choice. He gives fairly good buffs, can give orders to everyone, and his ability to always stand up again is a fair representation of Gaunts stubbornness to die. Just ignore the fact he gives a bonus against Orks. Alternatively (
and since Commissars kill more than they save this edition*BLAM* See?*BLAM**BLAM*), it is way easier to bring a normal Company Commander with a Bolt Pistol and get him Draconian Disciplinarian as Warlord Trait.
- With the rules for Sly Marbo there now is an obvious and fun (even if not very effective) choice for Mkvenner or Mkoll. Good as distraction and objective grabber though.
- Bringing Veterans with Camo Cloaks is a thing of the past as well, so where to look for the normal squads? Veterans are still fairly good and can grab three Sniper Rifles as well as a Heavy Flamer, reflecting standard Tanith weaponry. However, they won't be able to secure Objectives, and the Lasgun as main weapon may fall a little short. Instead one could bring normal Infantry Squads and Ratlings or Command Squads for Sniper Rifles. But then you either wouldn't be able to order them or would only be able to take one for each Commander.
- The famous Scouts probably are best represented by small squads of Scions, being able to infiltrate anywhere if needed. However, prepare for them to not be very efficient, as for fluff reasons they shouldn't have any Meltas, Plasma weapons, or any of the other fun stuff.
- The best Regiment Doctrine to choose is most likely Cadian, since the simple rerolls compliments the Snipers and overall marksmanship of the Tanith army. Also, bringing a model of Brin Milo and letting him have the "Relic of Lost Cadia" is kinda fun. Alternatively, Tallarn would also work well, enabling to outflank a part of the army. With all the Sniper Rifles (you should definitely bring some, spamming them is the only way to deal damage with this army) they will however struggle to capitalize on their moving and shooting Doctrine. Though Choice.
- Since the Psychic Awakening there also is the option to mix your own regiment doctrines. Wilderness Survivors for the flat out cover buff is a must, with Agile Warriors (re-roll advance), Fire from Hip (shoot rapid fire at -1 after advance), or Slum Fighters (additional melee attack on hit roll of 6) as second choices.
- Another approach would be to play them with the rules for Elysians. Everything in your army will be able to infiltrate behind enemy lines, the HQs give nice morale buffs, and you have designated sniper squads. Not bad at all - simply fielding those rules will make your army more special since Elysians are so rarely seen. Only drawback imaginable would be that Tanith this way would be more of a supporting force to a bigger army, which is OK, but regular Scions would probably be better in dealing tons of damage (especially considering Tanith shouldn't have any Plasma/Melta). Elysians can be a bit cheaper though, so simply filling up any empty spaces on the board by turn two and taking it from there is an option...
- Doing one of the above and mixing in other regiments the Tanith have fought alongside might be a good way to mix in units that don't suit the Tanith. The Royal Volpone for heavy infantry, as Scions with meltas and plasma, or the Narmenian Armoured for tanks. This also gives you more variety in the kind of models you can feild.
- UPDATE: Only War: Hammer of the Emperor has rules for the Ghosts, so while you still can't play the regiment in large scale wars, you can play as the Tanith First-and-Only in squad-scale actions.
- Or you could adapt their Chapter Approved rules from 3rd Edition to
7th Edition... 8th Edition... 9th Edition...
- Kill Team 8th Ed has official support for several characters including Gaunt himself...as long as you don't play matched play i.e. 99% of all available games.
Note that as of the big FAQ you can only take a single squad up to three times, if you are playing by the tournament suggestions, therefore ruining a Veteran army for good. Seems only fitting Tanith is slowly dying out...
As of May 5 2021, it has been revealed that plastic Gaunt's Ghosts are coming. Gaunt, Mkoll, Larkin, Colm, and Brag are all being given plastic models. They will also get their own rules and Tanith will be getting its own rules in the next Imperial Guard codex.
Brother Vinni's Commissar, who just happens to be wielding a power sword, bolt pistol, and wearing a camo cloak but is so TOTALLY NOT COLONEL-COMMISSAR GAUNT.
Brother Vinni's Guts, aka so TOTALLY NOT TROOPER 'TRY AGAIN' BRAGG