The Tau and the Imperium

It occurred to me the other day that the Tau Empire is following a surprising parallel with the early Imperium of man.

No I’m not mad.

Anyone that’s read the Horus Heresy novels and/or the background in 6th Edition Warhammer 40,000 will know that the Imperium was supposed to be a place of enlightenment free of institutions that would divide it. During the Great Crusade the fleets would arrive at a system, give the inhabitants the opportunity to embrace the Imperium and accept the Imperial truth or face the consequences.

Am I mad or do the Tau, more of less, do the same thing? Obviously they’re a bit more huggy about the whole thing but that’s essentially what they’re doing. And when you consider that the Tau lack any real ranged warp travel but are an ever-growing Empire it begs the question what the Universe has in store for these grey skinned hippies.

Through my various shady sources I’ve found out that the Emperor had a plan for the Tau and instructed Guilliman to defend the embryonic civilisation from harm. The order got lost in the galactic postal service and has only recently come to light – in time for the 6th edition Tau & Space Marine codices funnily enough – hence why Space Marines and the Tau are bum chums.

It strikes me that the Tau, ironically, will be the saviours of humanity. According to the new fluff the Emperor is projecting a lovely cuddly duvet of protective psychic energy over the Imperium. Which I’m sure is fucking knackering. Not to mention gets in the way of the whole ascension thing.

The important details are that the Emperor was trying to create a society free of the lure of Chaos and Tau are impervious to the lure of Chaos which makes them the perfect choice to face the inevitable onslaught of Chaos. So the ideal situation would be to lace Tau units across the Imperium as well as give the Tau Astropaths and Telepaths to allow them to move more effectively across the galaxy responding to threats.

This, however, rather flies in the face of the Imperial mandate of manging all aliens in the face. As there’s no way that it would happen with the Imperium at war with itself. The Tau would also need some assurances. I suspect their protection from the rest of the galaxy would be a part of it, and I would trust Marneus Calgar to be greasing those particular wheels following the discovery of Guilliman’s missive to the rest of the Space Marine legions.

Perhaps humanities inability to trust in anything beyond what the High Lords tell them to, or the fact that the High Lords would never relinquish an ounce of power unless the Emperor himself rose from the Golden Throne, will mean that they will never use the Tau for what they were intended.  Instead maybe the Tau will become the inheritors of the galaxy. As humanity and the denizens of the warp burn themselves out in the great Second Heresy the warp will be becalmed and the Tau will be able to expand across known space.

Which brings us to two possible timelines. The first is that the Tau continue to expand, human worlds gladly embracing their new masters as salvation from the coming darkness until it reaches such a mass that the Tau can begin their own great crusade and claim the galaxy as their own. The second is the return of the Primarchs and the rebirth of the Emperor which would decree the Tau are brought into the fold. And, because the Emperor isn’t stupid, it would also completely hamstring any future expansion by the Tau.

Fighting alongside the Imperium would exhaust their military might to the point where, at best, the Tau will be reliant on the Imperium for protection whilst it recovers, or at worst, they are consigned to second class citizen status like Ratlings and Ogryns and kept as a military assest, mustered when the threat of Chaos or a Chaos cult looms. An extension, I suppose, of the Inquisition.

8 thoughts on “The Tau and the Imperium

  1. Not that far fetched.

    I remember some designer thoughts from way.. way back that the Tau Empire (as a 40K addition) was in parts inspired by Asimov’s “1000 Year Plan” short story (which was in turn inspired by the Fall of the Roman Empire), where they set up an “second Empire” to mitigate the chaos / minimize the galactic dark age that would follow the “inevitable fall” of the big, sprawling, bloated, corrupt Galactic Empire that “currently” kept the Galaxy together (more or less).

    Of course, fluff keeps changing and all. But the idea’s been there at the start.

  2. One problem Phil, the Tyranids. While I can see your point about the Tau and the Imperium and agree with what you’re seeing, the Tyranids, although currently being pushed by Kryptmann to fight the Orks are still a giant cock up the ass of the galaxy. Will be interesting to see if they can ever really be beaten or if there are bigger and nastier things beyond the galactic rim coming in the wake of the current hive fleets.

    1. Actually no. The same source revealed that the Necrons take exception to the anarchy the Tyranids represent and conveniently keep the Tyranids contained.

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