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|This article is about the Imperial Guard officer, for the Tyranid genus see Gaunt (Tyranid)|
Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt was the Commanding officer of the Tanith First and Only Imperial Guard regiment, also known as "Gaunt's Ghosts." A favoured subordinate of the Imperial Warmaster Slaydo, the once simply Commissar Gaunt was given the unusual distinction of a regimental command rank by the Warmaster on his deathbed. Gaunt was to assume command of three Imperial Guard regiments drawn from the backwoods world of Tanith, but terrible tragedy during their Founding resulted in his instead commanding the remains of one, ragtag, ill-disciplined, under-equipped and under-officered regiment of survivors. Gaunt would go on to turn this unlikely prospect into one of the most notable and successful regiments that served during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, personally leading them in a number of different war zones, including as an honour guard for the reborn Imperial Saint Sabbat herself.
Ibram Gaunt was born on Manzipor, the son of the second-in-command of the Jantine Patricians regiment.[1a] After the death of his father at the hands of Orks, Gaunt was sent to the Schola Progenium on Ignatius Cardinal.[1b] After his graduation he saw action in many theatres as a Cadet-Commissar, while attached to the Hyrkan Regiments.[1c]
It was during this time, that on Darendara he learned from a captured enemy psyker that his "Uncle," General Aldo Dercius, who had sponsored his education at the Schola, was responsible for his father's death, having cowardly abandoned his position and leaving the elder Gaunt to be overwhelmed by the Orks.[1d][1e]
Ibram was promoted to full Commissar at the death-bed of his mentor, Commissar-General Delane Oktar, poisoned by Orks on Gylatus Decimus.[1f] His first action was to condemn General Dercius for his cowardice and execute him with his chainsword, though Dercius, in his desperation to defend himself, gave Gaunt a near-fatal wound to the stomach with his own sword.[1d]
As commissar to the Hyrkan 8th, Gaunt was present at the conclave of officers when Warmaster Slaydo announced the founding of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Gaunt came to Slaydo's attention, and was one of the select few who attended a private banquet held by the Warmaster before his valedictory battle on Balhaut. During the banquet, Slaydo shared his reverence for Saint Sabbat, and made each of his guests swear a blood oath to protect the Saint at all costs.
After taking fatal wounds on Balhaut, the battle that finally opened a corridor into the Sabbat Worlds for the Imperial forces, Slaydo gave Gaunt another deathbed promotion, to the rare rank of Colonel-Commissar. Even more extraordinary, Slaydo pledged the Right of Settlement to Gaunt's regiment - the right to occupy and retire to the first planet they conquered for themselves.[Needs Citation]
The Tanith First And Only
Gaunt was to take command of the first 3 regiments raised from the planet Tanith, the Tanith 1st, 2nd and 3rd light infantry regiments. Excelling in stealth and reconnaissance tactics, all they required was a great leader to lead them to victory. But before they were fully mustered for departure, the planet of Tanith was attacked by the forces of Chaos which broke through a gap in the Imperial Navy's lines. In one night Tanith was lost, but Gaunt made a decision to save as many troops as possible instead of letting them burn with Tanith.[1g][2a] These remaining troops were grouped together into a single regiment, the Tanith First (often called the "First and Only" in later years).[2a]
As the Crusade rolled on through the Sabbat Worlds, Gaunt and the Ghosts saw action in numerous theatres. Over his years they began referring to themselves as Gaunt's Ghosts. Despite his difficult beginning with the regiment, Gaunt has earned the respect of the troops under his command and led the Tanith First and Only to multiple victories on many different planets during the Sabbat Crusade.
Noteworthy Later Actions
Gaunt's operational history is extensive, particularly given his willingness to personally lead his men in combat. Some of his most noteworthy actions include:
- Leading a strike team on Fortis Binary into the heart of the Shriven stronghold and destroying the garrison's ammunition stores[1h];
- Leading a commando group on Menazoid Epsilon that found, and destroyed, a corrupted Standard Template Constructor machine, inadvertently thwarting Lord General Militant Dravere's plot to seize control of the Crusade from Warmaster Macaroth[1i];
- Fighting against a vastly superior Chaos army on Monthax, alongside the unlikely allies of the Royal Volpone regiment and an Eldar strike force[2b];
- Taking command of the Imperial forces defending the city of Vervunhive on Verghast, in the absence of any higher-ranking officers[3a], and leading the strike force that infiltrated Heritor Asphodel's command vehicle and ultimately killed the Heritor himself.[3b]
- Leading the Honour Guard detailed to escort Saint Sabbat's remains to safety on Hagia, and eventually repelling the Chaos forces attacking the planet, in their entirety.
Gaunt is a rebellious figure and has been known to have many conflicts with his superiors. Some of his enemies tried to kill him and destroy his regiment, such as Colonel Flense, Lord General Dravere and Lord General Lugo amongst others. Gaunt also found himself caught up in a plot to remove Macaroth from command of the Crusade. In which he was guardian to a vital piece of information that almost got him killed in a number of attacks on both him and his regiment.
Ibram Gaunt is well known to use a Bolt Pistol both for his duties as a Commissar, as well as in battle. In the early Gaunt's Ghosts novels he also used a Chainsword which was a gift from his mentor Delane Oktar, but this was destroyed during a battle with a daemon-thing during the defence of Verghast hive[3c]. The ancient Sword of Heironymo Sondar was given to him in the final stages of his brave defence of Verghast.[3a]
- 1: First and Only (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 1a: A Memory: Manzipor, Thirty Years Earlier
- 1b: A Memory: Ignatius Cardinal, Twenty-Nine Years Earlier
- 1c: A Memory: Darendara, Twenty Years Earlier
- 1d: A Memory: Khedd 1173, Sixteen Years Earlier
- 1e: A Memory: Darendara, Twenty Years Earlier (II)
- 1f: A Memory: Gylatus Decimus, Eighteen Years Earlier
- 1g: Part Three: Fortis Binary Forge World, Chapter Six
- 1h: Part Three: Fortis Binary Forge World, Chapters Ten and Eleven
- 1i: Part Six: Menazoid Epsilon, Chapter Twenty-Three
- 2: Ghostmaker (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 3: Necropolis (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 4: Honour Guard (Novel) by Dan Abnett, Chapter Eleven