Eberron: Dawn of Heroes
Gnomes are among the most inquisitive of races. They seek knowledge in all its forms and tend to careers which allow them to fulfill this thirst: bards, historians, alchemists and librarians, as well as spies. The gnomes rule the nation of Zilargo, one of the oldest nations of Khorvaire.
Migration from Thelanis
Gnomes originated on the plane of Thelanis, with the other races of the fey. On Thelanis, the gnomes joined the eladrin of the Summer Court. These gnomes inhabited the various eladrin feyspires.
At some point in the past, during one of the frequent coterminous periods between Thelanis and Eberron, a large amount of gnomes migrated to Khorvaire. While some of these gnomes spread across the continent, most of these gnomes settled in an area on the southern portion of Khorvaire. The gnomes settled between the Howling Peaks and the Seawall Mountains, congregating mainly along the coast of the Thunder Sea. These gnomes were much more primitive than the gnomes of today.
Though the land was inhabited by tribes of kobolds, including the Haka’jhar tribe. The gnomes managed to push the kobolds back to the two mountain ranges to the north of their territory. The gnomes also clashed with the Dhakaani Empire, using guerilla tactics to help prevent the goblins from entering their lands. The Dhakaani Empire’s Ghuurash Codex provides details about “jungle rats” that infested the coast between the Howling Peaks and the Seawall Mountains. The gnomes failed to stop the goblin empire, though, and were either enslaved or forced deeper into the wilds. But conquest was far easier than occupation, as the gnomes used guile to trick the goblins into fighting each other. Eventually, though, the Dhakaani Empire fell to an incursion from Xoriat, allowing the gnomes time to grow. These more primitive gnomes took over the abandoned cities of the Dhakaani and the daelkyr, devouring their knowledge and adding it to their own.
Era of Expansion
As gnome society grew, families aligned themselves into different clans. Clan names include the Adredar, Clebdecher, Dalian, Davandi, Harlian, Korran, Lonadar, Nezzelech, Santiar, Sivis, and Tarliach clans. These clans slowly joined together to form three city-states: Trolanport, Korranberg, and Zolanberg. Though the gnomes still faced threats of kobold tribes and the remnants of the goblin empire, they were able to raise these great city-states.
The gnome clans spread out, becoming one of the first seafaring races of Khorvaire. The gnomes came into contact with all the other races of Khorvaire. When the humans first came to Khorvaire from Sarlona three thousand years ago, the gnomes extended their hands in friendship. The gnomes, experts in both bureaucracy and linguistics, helped the humans adapt to their new continent. In fact, the gnomes claim that it was they that helped spread the humans’ language of Old Common amongst the other races, transforming it into the Common language of Khorvaire.
The gnomes, with their endless desire for knowledge, became information traders with the humans across Khorvaire. Loremaster Dorius Alyre ir’Korran dedicated his life to the gathering of knowledge from the Dhakaani and Daelkyr Empires. With knowledge donated by the three great city-states, Korran created the great Library of Korranberg.
The Rise of House Sivis and Zilargo
2,800 years ago, the gnomes of the Sivis clan became the third race to manifest a dragonmark. These gnomes manifested the Mark of Scribing. Fearing an outcast status with the other clans, the gnomes of the Sivis clan quickly used their aptitude in the arcane arts to master their dragonmarks. Soon, Sivis began to tap into their marks’ abilities, using their spell-like powers to aide the other clans. Unbeknownst to the gnomes at the time, the Sivis clan would set the mold of what would eventually become a dragonmarked house: consolidation of all dragonmarked family lines within one larger clan, who would use their marks for profit and create a large commercial mercantile force. The Sivis clan used their diplomatic nature to reach out to the other marked races, and they began the creation of the true Dragonmarked Houses.
However, gnome relations with the humans were not always peaceful. About 2,400 years ago, a human warlord named Malleon the Reaver plied the eastern and southern coasts of Khorvaire, from the Lhazaar Sea towards the southwest coast. Malleon plundered a large number of settlements along the southern coast of Khorvaire, including the remaining kobold and goblin settlements. And towards the north, a numan named Karrn the Conqueror was also setting his sights on subjugating the disparate human territories. In the wake of such threats, the three gnome city-states formed a closer alliance. Trolanport, Korranberg, and Zolanberg joined forces to provide a united front against the forces of Malleon and Karrn. From the three city-states, they created a single nation, which they named Zilargo, or The Home of the Wise in the gnomish language.
The three city-states formed a unified government, called the Triumvirate. While each city-state was still ruled by one of their Council of Nine, one representative from each council was chosen to form a new ruling body to oversee the united nation. This new nation of Zilargo faced the threat of Malleon’s sea marauders. Luckily, Malleon set his sight on a bigger target: the last remaining goblin city of Duur’shaarat. With his eye on a bigger prize, Malleon’s attacks on the gnome settlements were ancillary, and easily defendable by the unified gnome nation.
At some unknown point after the formation of Zilargo, the Triumvirate sought to find a way to keep their nation unified. In order to police a populace that prizes secrets and knowledge above all, a mysterious gnome known only as “the Proctor” created the Trust, a secret police force within the gnomish nation. Anyone could be recruited within this police force, and even a gnome’s lifelong friend may, in fact, be an agent of this order. The gnomes used this secret police to keep the population in-line, and the Trust still operate this way to this day.
Not only did the gnomes continue to migrate across Khorvaire, they also began exploring the seas. 1,600 years ago, a group of gnome explorers attempted to settle on the southern continent of Xen’drik, on the site of modern-day Stormreach. However, the settlement was short-lived, and returned to Zilargo after being repulsed by the giant tribes. One gnome, however, believes the giant attack to be a cover story, citing a settler’s reference to a “darkness that gripped both body and soul.”
1,500 years ago, the gnomes of House Sivis joined the other Dragonmarked Houses in the War of the Mark. The Dragonmarked Houses banded together in an effort to remove the “unpure” traces of Aberrant Dragonmarks. The War of the Mark ended with the siege of Sharn. There, the leaders of the newly formed Aberrant Dragonmarked House, House Tarkanan fought against the various Dragonmarked Houses, but succumbed to the houses’ superior power.
One thousand years ago, the human Galifar ir’Wynarn united the five human nations of Khorvaire into one nation: Galifar. Once the different human nations had been unified, Galifar turned his sights on Zilargo. The gnomes of a unified Zilargo met his forces in the valley north of Dragonroost and immediately surrendered. True to their ways, the gnomes negotiated to remain a sovereign principality of the nation of Galifar, and swore allegiance to the king.
Back on Thelanis, the gnomes there grew in power as well. They became the controlling power of one of their own feyspires: Pyras Pyrial, the Gate of Joy. Pyras Pyrial was situated on Thelanis in a location that allowed it to manifest in Zilargo when Thelanis became coterminous with Eberron.
In the year 498 YK, gnome explorers in the Shadow Marches came across clans of orcs that possessed a dragonmark. These orcs possessed the Mark of Finding. House Sivis brought the leaders of these tribes to the other Dragonmarked Houses, and House Tharashk was soon born.
In 783 YK, House Sivis made the breakthough of the sending stone, a magical item that allows someone with the Mark of Scribing to send messages to other House Sivis members telepathically. These stones, created by Tasker Torralyn d’Sivis and improved upon by the Twelve, changed the face of Khorvaire, allowing the nations to communicate instantaneously. By 789 YK, House Sivis began setting up sending stone stations all across Khorvaire and beyond.
In 793 YK, a gnome named Byrnid Dojurn convinced the Doyenne of House Sivis to fund a trip to Xen’drik to unlock the long-lost giant ability to bond elementals to items. Byrnid Dojurn’s expedition was successful, and he returned with the information on how ot master this lost aft. Within the next decade, the arcane artisans of Zilargo began creating elemental vessels, such as airships and the lightning rail.
In the year 894 YK, the human nation of Galifar splintered, marking the beginning of the Last War. Five nations emerged from the splintering: Aundair, Breland, Cyre, Karrnath, and Thrane. Zilargo suddenly found themselves between the new Brelish nation and the new Cyran nation. However, ever the diplomats, the gnomes took a neutral stance. They continued to supply knowledge and learning to all of the nations, citing “We are a principality of the crown of Galifar, and we are the loyal servants of the kings and queens of Galifar.” However, in the year 962 YK, almost seventy years later, Zilargo changed their stance. Zilargo officially delclared their allegiance to Breland, essentially decalring themselves as an independent nation and throwing support to breland in one fell swoop. Zilargo began exclusively supplying its troops and, more importantly, its elemental vessels, to the cause of Breland.
The gnomes continued to support Breland until the end of the Last War, where the nation of Zilargo joined the other nations in the Treaty of Thronehold. Since then, the gnome race continues to be a major power on Khorvaire, with both the nation of Zilargo and the Dragonmarked House of Sivis.