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.
Originally, Tanith raised three regiments for the Imperial Guard: the Tanith 1st, 2nd and 3rd - 6,000 men and a small number of vehicles and artillery pieces. 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". 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. The remnants of the three regiments were formed into a single regiment, the Tanith First and Only, with Gaunt promoting two members of a delegation sent to confront him, Corbec and Rawne, into its colonel and major respectively.[2a]
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", referencing both their superlative stealth abilities and the fact that they were dispossessed 'ghosts' of men.[2a]
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.[2b] 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 1500.
With Tanith destroyed, the Tanith First-and-Only had no homeworld from which to draw new recruits, but the Ghosts eventually garnered a strong reputation after a number of actions, in particular the Siege of Vervunhive. After the heavy fighting of the siege the Ghosts were reduced to their lowest numbers yet, but received a huge influx of new recruits from Vervunhive who, thanks to Warmaster Macaroth's Act of Consolation, were allowed to join any regiment of the Imperial Guard they desired since their hive had been destroyed.[3a] The cultural divide between the Tanith and Verghastite elements of the regiment became an ongoing problem, with the Tanith resenting the newcomers and the Verghastites resenting that resentment and feeling like second-class Ghosts shut out of the regiment's elite sections. The introduction of women into the regiment as part of the Vervunhive influx also caused some tension, but this was more quickly resolved as the women proved themselves in combat and the complaints of the anti-women Tanith such as Major Rawne became tired and repetitive. The greater cultural divide was eventually bridged due to shared combat experiences and the promotion of several Verghastites to platoon command, as well as the first Verghastite making it into the regiment's elite scouting cadre. By the end of the conflict on Aexe Cardinal the regiment was fighting as a cohesive whole.
Following the Siege of Vervunhive the Ghosts went on to win renown through their actions in several warzones, including the shrineworld Hagia where they defended the remains of Saint Sabbat against Chaos forces, Phantine where their infiltration skills were officially recognised by high command for the first time and they were instrumental in capturing the city of Ouranberg, and Herodor where they fought alongside reincarnated Saint Sabbat herself as her personal honour guard.
After Herodor the regiment underwent another great change when Gaunt and several of his best unit commanders including Rawne and Mkoll were tasked with leading a small infiltration team on Gereon to assassinate traitor-general Noches Sturm, formerly of the Volpone Bluebloods, before his memories could be accessed by his Chaos captors. The Tanith First, while still intact in the body of its troops, was left without most of its command structure and the Ghosts were merged with the Belladon 81st regiment under colonel Lucien Wilder, a regiment which also specialised in scouting and had lost many of its men in previous actions but still had most of its commanders. The combined 81st/1st Recon were deployed in combat on Ancreon Sextus, but the already high tensions between the Ghosts and their new Belladon commanders peaked when Gaunt and his team returned alive from Gereon after being assumed dead. Gaunt was forced to act as an ordinary commissar again, shut out of his own regiment, which Wilder had made several changes to including using alphabetical call-signs instead of the previous numerical platoons. Wilder, however, redeemed himself in everyone's eyes when he led a heroic rear guard action and died buying time for the rest of the regiment to escape. After this Gaunt returned to command and the regiment reclaimed the name Tanith First-and-Only, though now with a third cultural group, the Belladon, as part of its mix.
The Ghosts continued to fight superbly in the name of the Emperor after Ancreon Sextus, returning in full force to liberate Gereon from Chaos control. However, they suffered heavy losses once more when they defended the abandoned fortress Hinzerhaus on Jago against massed armies of Blood Pact, and Gaunt himself was captured by the enemy and believed dead for a short time. Though saved, Gaunt lost his sight to his wounds. After the conflict on Jago Gaunt requested that his regiment be rotated away from the front lines as they had been fighting for too long, and they were stationed as a garrison force on Balhaut for nearly two years.
The Tanith are unparalleled scouts, marksmen, masters of stealth tactics, and excellent light infantry. They possess an unerring sense of direction, a trait developed for survival on a planet where the nalwood forests actually move to conceal the paths through them. 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.[3b]
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 Scouts, led by Chief Scout Sergeant Oan Mkoll, specialise in reconnaissance and covert operations. Considered the regiment's elites, the scouts are dominated by Tanith natives and were indeed purely Tanith even for some time after the integration of the Verghastites into the regiment. Heqta Jajjo was the first Verghastite to make the grade and be added the scout corp.
- The Sniper division, dominated by Tanith master-sniper Hlaine Larkin. Unlike with the scouts, the Verghastites are at least equally represented among the snipers and include a number of women. Indeed, Larkin is the only one who has upheld his reputation in the face of skilled former scratch-company markswomen such as Jessi Banda and Nessa Bourah.
In order to offset their light infantry status, the Tanith employ several types of heavy-weapons for support in combat. Heavy guns such as autocannons are handled by teams of two, one gunner and one ammo feeder. Trooper 'Try Again' Bragg was famous for being able to carry one of these single-handed, as well as for his terrible aim, before his death on Phantine. The Tanith also employ flamer units and rocket launchers, though they call the latter 'tread-fethers'. Every trooper carries a thirty-centimetre combat blade known as 'straight silver'.
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]
Prior to their re-organisation into the 81st-1st Recon, the Tanith were divided into numbered platoons. Each of these platoons was led by a squad-leader, usually a sergeant, though higher-ranking men like Colonel Corbec and Major Rawne had their own platoons as well. Each squad-leader had their own numerical call-sign, though this did not always match the number of their platoon. (For example, Agun Soric's call-sign was 20 even though he was leader of five platoon.) This was possibly due to the fact that men kept their call-signs even after promotion, something Major Rawne disliked when he continued to be referred to as 'three' in battle even after he became the regiment's second-in-command after the death of Colonel Corbec.
Known platoons and leaders are as follows:
- One Platoon - Led by Gaunt.
- Two Platoon - Led by Colonel Corbec until his death on Herodor.
- Three Platoon - Led by Major Rawne. Three platoon was infamous for being a sink for all the malcontents within the regiment who hated Gaunt for leaving Tanith to die, Rawne himself foremost among them.
- Four Platoon - The Scout platoon, led by Scout-Sergeant Oan Mkoll. Unlike the other platoons four platoon did not fight all together; each member was attached to one of the other platoons as its scout specialist.
- Five Platoon - Led by Sergeant Agun Soric until his imprisonment as a psyker on Herodor and transferal to the Black Ships.
- Seven Platoon - Originally led by Sergeant Blane, seven platoon was wiped out to man on Menazoid Epsilon rear-guarding the regiment against a treacherous attack by the Jantine Patricians. Sergeant Lerod became the leader of the new seven platoon, but they suffered heavy losses on Monthax and Lerod himself was killed in the final phase of that conflict. The platoon was later led by Sergeant Burone.
- Nine Platoon - Led by Sergeant Ceglan Varl, who was promoted up from the ranks to replace Sergeant Grell who was killed on Fortis Binary by an Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marine.
- Ten Platoon - Originally the platoon led by Verghastite scratch-company hero Gol Kolea, ten platoon was taken over by Tona Criid, the first female sergeant in the regiment, after Kolea suffered a head injury on Phantine that robbed him of his intelligence and personality. Kolea continued to serve in the platoon as a mentally handicapped grunt trooper, but was healed by Saint Sabbat on Herodor in an official miracle. Despite this, he allowed Criid to continue leading the platoon.
- Eleven Platoon - Led by Sergeant Obel. Eleven platoon contained famous pair heavy-weapons trooper Bragg and master sniper Hlaine Larkin.
- Twelve Platoon - Led by Sergeant Dohon 'Shoggy' Domor. This was the platoon Brin Milo joined once he became a trooper. They fought directly alongside Saint Sabbat during the siege of Civitas Beati on Herodor.
- Fourteen Platoon - Led by Sergeant Flyn Meryn, who took command after receiving the brevet-rank of sergeant during Operation Larisel on Phantine.
- Fifteen Platoon - Led by Sergeant Theiss.
- Sixteen Platoon - Led by Sergeant Maroy, sixteen platoon took heavy shelling on Aexe Cardinal and suffered 70% losses, including Maroy. Gaunt considered Brin Milo as the new sergeant for this platoon, but he left the regiment to serve alongside the Beati before this could happen.
- Seventeen Platoon - Originally led by Sergeant Lhurn Adare, who famously got roaring drunk upon his promotion, seventeen platoon was taken over by Sergeant Raglon, Gaunt's former vox-officer, after Adare was killed in Operation Larisel. The drunkenness of trooper Costin caused this platoon to take heavy losses on Aexe Cardinal and almost ended the friendship between Gaunt and Chief Medic Tolin Dorden after the latter undermined Gaunt by refusing to let him execute Costin, but Costin cleaned up his act and was instrumental in saving over 70 lives on Herodor just months later.
- Eighteen Platoon - Led by Sergeant Mkendrick. Eighteen platoon was completely wiped out by the loxatl triplets on Herodor.
- Nineteen Platoon - Led by Sergeant Skerral. Nineteen platoon were too slow to make it inside the Old City gates on Herodor and were wiped out in a heroic last stand against the Blood Pact.
- Twenty Platoon - Led by Sergeant Ewler, a grizzled veteran Tanith.
- Twenty-three Platoon - Originally led by Sergeant Indrimmo, twenty-three platoon was taken over by Verghastite Sergeant Arcuda after Indrimmo was killed on Phantine.
- Twenty-six Platoon - Led by Sergeant Folore, who was once the most junior platoon leader.
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
- Vervunhive, Verghast
- 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
- 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