Tanith First and Only
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Tanith First and Only
The Tanith First, more commonly known as the Tanith First and Only, was an Imperial Guard Regiment raised during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. They were also colloquially known as "Gaunt's Ghosts", after their commanding officer, Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt.
Primarily light infantry, the name "Ghosts" referred to their superlative stealth and reconnaissance skills, but it was also a melancholy reminder of the fact that their homeworld, Tanith, was destroyed by the forces of Chaos shortly after their initial Founding.
When Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt was sent to Tanith to oversee the founding of these regiments, he was not impressed by the appearance of the men, initially describing them as "a scrawny, scruffy mob of soft-voiced woodsmen".[2b]
On the very night of the regiments' Founding ceremony, a Chaos fleet that had slipped through the Imperial Navy screen arrived in the Tanith system, which was practically defenseless. Gaunt quickly decided that Tanith could not be saved, and, instead of allowing the Guardsmen to engage in a futile defense of their homeworld, ordered as much of the men and equipment evacuated off-planet as possible before the Chaos ships arrived. In the attack that followed, Tanith and the majority of its people were immolated.[2c]
The remnants of the regiment were formed into a single regiment, the Tanith First and Only.
Gaunt's opinion of his new regiment changed quickly after seeing them in combat for the first time on Blackshard. Because of their exceptional stealth and scouting skills, they never got lost even on the most confusing of battlefields, and using camo-cloaks they could move quickly and stealthily through terrain. On Blackshard, the regiment's master sniper, Hlaine Larkin, coined the name, "Gaunt's Ghosts."[2d] Sadly, Colonel Colm Corbec, Gaunt's newly-appointed second, told Gaunt that his decision to abandon Tanith had "made ghosts of them, hollow echoes."[2e]
During the Crusade, the Ghosts' expertise in covert operations was instrumental in the liberation of a number of worlds. However, rivalries with other, more illustrious regiments (in particular, the Jantine Patricians and the Volpone Bluebloods) often put the Ghosts at risk. The regiment took heavy losses in its early actions, including the loss of three hundred during a friendly fire "incident" at Voltis Watergate on Voltemand.[2f] Heavy casualties were also incurred during the effort to recapture the Forge World of Fortis Binary, so much so that by the time of the Ghosts' deployment on Monthax, they numbered only 1,500.[2g]
With Tanith destroyed, the Tanith First-and-Only had no homeworld from which to draw new recruits.
The Ghosts' eventually garnered a strong reputation after a number of actions, in particular the Siege of Vervunhive[3a], the defense of the Shrinehold of Saint Sabbat on Hagia[4a], and the critical battle on Herodor.[Needs Citation]
Unfortunately, this success did not come without a price and the Ghosts suffered heavy casualties on a number of occasions. However, two large personnel intakes during the regiment's history (one from the citizenry of Vervunhive, after the Siege[3a], and the other from the folding in of the 81st Belladon Recon regiment[Needs Citation]) managed to offset these losses.
While Gaunt was leading a small infiltration team on Gereon the Tanith First was left without a senior commander, and, due to the decreasing size of the regiment, the Ghosts were merged with a Belladon covert unit and become the 81st/1st Recon. During this time, the Tanith First's organisational structure changed; companies using alphabetical call-signs replaced the previous numerical platoons.[Needs Citation] Following Colonel Wilder's death in a heroic rear guard action and Gaunt's return to command, the regiment reclaimed the name Tanith First-and-Only.[Needs Citation]
By the beginning of the true Gereon campaign, the Ghosts were composed of three distinct cultures: Tanith, Verghastite and Belladon; led by Majors Rawne, Kolea and Baskevyl, respectively (each a native of that culture's homeworld).[Needs Citation]
The Tanith are unparalleled scouts, marksmen, masters of stealth tactics, and excellent light infantry. They are said to possess an unerring sense of direction, traits developed for survival on a planet where the nalwood forests actually move to conceal the path taken. While the Verghastite and Belladon infantrymen do not have this uncanny knack, they are also proven light infantry specialists, with Verghastite Hive City backgrounds in particular complementing the talents of the Tanith woodsmen. The First and Only excels in stealth infiltration missions, but has proven particularly tenacious in defensive operations in urban terrain. [Needs Citation]
Even amongst such light infiltration infantry as the Tanith, there is always room for the truly elite. In the Ghosts these take on two forms:
- The aptly named Scouts, led by Chief Scout Sergeant Oan Mkoll, specialise in reconnaissance and covert operations. The scout elites were dominated by Tanith natives.[Needs Citation]
- The Sniper division, which tended to be dominated by the Verghastites, especially several female snipers who joined after the Siege of Vervunhive.[Needs Citation]
Appearance & Uniform
The cap badge for the Tanith is a wreath-surrounded skull with three daggers behind it; each dagger representing a Tanith regiment. On the badge is the inscription "For Tanith, For the Emperor".[Needs Citation] After the destruction of the Tanith 2nd and 3rd regiments, the Tanith snapped off the two outside daggers on their cap badges. The Verghastite cap badge is an axe-rake to symbolise their former hive's mining and industrial background. These pins and other badges that indicate rank or specialisation are dulled down with soot or boot-black to aid in stealth operations.[Needs Citation]
Weapons & Equipment
The Tanith are noted as being adept at using the Flamer and Missile Launcher (though the type of missile-launcher they favour appears to be a cut-down rocket-tube referred to informally as a "tread-fether") and also regularly deploy autocannons and sniper rifles.[Needs Citation]
Campaigns and Garrisons
Since its founding, the Tanith First-and-Only has served in the following campaigns and warzones:
- Ramilles 268-43
- Typhon Eight
- Fortis Binary
- Menazoid Epsilon
- Oskray Hive, Sapiencia
- Aexe Cardinal
- Ancreon Sextus
- Balhaut (reserve)
- Salvation's Reach
Some of their most notable actions included:
- "Operation Larisel" on Phantine, an airbourne operation that deployed specially selected fireteams into Ouranberg to seek out and assassinate Sagittar Slaith, the Chaos warlord in command of the Blood Pact forces holding the city.
- Gaunt and a hand-picked team of Ghosts were deployed to the Chaos-held world Gereon, on a mission to find General Noches Sturm and either rescue him from his captors or kill him if the mindlock on his memories had been broken. The team would later return with the rest of the regiment to liberate Gereon.
Notable Regiment Members
- 1: First And Only (Novel) by Dan Abnett, Part.Two: Fortis Binary Forge World, Chapter Nine
- 2: Ghostmaker (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 3: Necropolis (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 4: Honour Guard (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 5: The Guns of Tanith (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 6: Straight Silver (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 7: Sabbat Martyr (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 8: Traitor General (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 9: His Last Command (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 10: The Armour of Contempt (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 11: Only in Death (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 12: Blood Pact (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 13: Salvation's Reach (Novel) by Dan Abnett