None (At Present) / Billions (formerly)
The capital city of Tanith -- surrounded by a giant wall, presumably to keep the nalwood trees from moving into the city -- is Tanith Magna. The world is governed by an Elector, and the main governmental building appears to be the Assembly (although Rawne mentions a place called the Elector's Palace when hypnotised on Monthax). It is unclear as to whether or not the Elector is elected as the title sounds, or if it is an inherited position like a king. Tanith is split up into counties, not unlike Ireland (Counties Pryze and Cuhulic are mentioned). Each city on Tanith has a Militia, from which a number of members of the Tanith First and Only were drafted into the Imperial Guard. Tanith's native wildlife include larisel, small animals hunted by woodsmen -- presumably for food -- and shoggy; small amphibian creatures with bulging eyes that dwell by woodland pools in Tanith's forests.
The Tanith people were pale-skinned and dark-haired, with a lilting, sing-song accent when they spoke their dialect of Low Gothic. Most Tanith men were tattooed with blue ink from the time of their youth. No female Tanith are mentioned in detail, and it is presumed that none made it off-world, but if any did they did not accompany the Tanith 1st. The main Tanith curse-word is feth, which is used in the same context as other common Imperial epitaphs, but it is also the name of an ancient Tanith tree-god. Sacra is an alcoholic beverage once favoured by the people Tanith, although it is not clear if it is native to Tanith as it is served in some bars off-world. Many Tanith names begin with "Mk", a variant of "Mc" or "Mac" used by the Irish and Scottish people of Old Earth, from whom inspiration for the Tanith culture appears to have been drawn. Tanith Pipes are described as a small clutch of spidery reeds attached to a bellows bag which is squeezed rhythmically under the arm, and make a sound similar to Uilleann Pipes. Their initial use on Tanith was to guide off-worlders through the shifting forests, but in the Tanith First they are used to rally the men and spook the enemy (although they have a similar effect on the Tanith's allies). According to Scout Trooper Bonin, most old Tanith families (his own included) baptise and officially name their children at the age of eight, as naming children at birth was considered premature and a child would grow into the names he or she would need. Bonin also remarks that this tradition wasn't observed much in Tanith's final years. Tanith was home to the legendary Nalsheen wood warriors, a brotherhood of Tanith who used the martial art cwlwhl (pronounced kil-wil); using blade-tipped staffs to fight off multiple foes. The Nalsheen were responsible for overthrowing the corrupt Huhlhuch Dynasty and ushering in the free modern era of Tanith. Mkvenner is the only remaining Tanith to have been trained in cwlwhl, but has reluctantly admitted that he never completed his training. The Nalsheen used proto-Gothic - the early form of both High and Low Gothic used presently in the Imperium - as their private language.
Following the death of Warmaster Slaydo, a splinter Chaos warfleet slipped past the picket set up by the Imperial Navy due to the newly-appointed Warmaster Macaroth's change of tactics. This small fleet attacked and conquered six worlds, one of which was Tanith. The Chaos armada bombarded Tanith from orbit, and deployed ground troops to kill whatever the heavy orbital guns' pounding missed. The forests of Tanith burned under the crippling firepower of the Chaotic warfleet. It is not clear if Tanith had any functioning planetary defense artillery batteries, but it is likely that the Tanith Militia fought back against the invaders. Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt was one of the last people to leave the planet before its demise, and was saved by a youth called Brin Milo, whom he took with him in gratitude. Milo confirms that he was the only civilian to leave Tanith alive, being too young to join the Imperial Guard.
It is unclear whether or not Tanith had a planetary defense force, but if it had any major form of global defense network then it was evidently outmatched by the Chaos splinter fleet that swept through the subsector. It is confirmed that each city had a militia, which presumably served as a local garrison force and assisted the local police. It is possible that when Tanith was called upon to raise regiments for the Imperial Guard, men from the militia were drafted into the regiments to help build up acceptable numbers. Notable Ghosts such as Colm Corbec, Hlaine Larkin, Elim Rawne and Mkvenner were recruited into the Imperial Guard through the militia.
The Tanith First-and-OnlyEdit
Originally, there was three Tanith Regiments raised for the Imperial Guard: the Tanith 1st, 2nd and 3rd - 6,000 men and a small number of armoured 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". His opinion of them changes quickly after seeing them in combat. He impatiently orders the regiments to begin boarding the carriers that will take them to the troop ships waiting to ferry them to their first warzones - a fortunate move which gets enough men off-world before the Chaos fleet strikes Tanith the same night. He confirms after leaving Tanith that this salvages three and a half thousand men and the majority of their equipment. It is unclear which regiments actually were saved from the fires of Tanith, but the remaining men are formed into the 1st Tanith Regiment, which is soon named the "Tanith First and Only". On the regiment's first battlefield on the world of Blackshard, Hlaine Larkin coins the nickname "Gaunt's Ghosts". The name has two meanings: the first is that Corbec tells Gaunt that his decision to abandon Tanith "made ghosts of them, hollow echoes". The second is that because of their exceptional stealth and scouting skills, they are ghost-like on the battlefield. The Tanith First excels at recon work as the Tanith never get lost, and using camo-cloaks they can move quickly and stealthily through terrain. The Tanith uniform is black, with optional helmets for standard troopers and forage caps for the regiment's elite scout platoon. Camo-cloaks (made of the fictional material "cameleoline") are standard. Every soldier has a long, double-edged bayonet/combat blade the Tanith call Straight Silver. Their favoured special weapons include long-las sniper rifles and flame throwers, and portable missile launchers the Tanith nickname "tread fethers". 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". After the destruction of the Tanith 2nd and 3rd regiments, the Tanith snap 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.
As Tanith is destroyed, the Tanith First-and-Only has no homeworld from which to draw new recruits to replace losses. Instead, new Ghosts are adopted into the regiment as the series progresses. At the end of the siege of Vervunhive, the megacity is left in ruins and the disillusioned citizens of Verghast were given the opportunity to join the Imperial Guard under the Act of Consolation. This resulted in an influx of Verghastite soldiers, which brought females into the regiment. Several of these women became some of the regiment's best snipers. While Gaunt is on Gereon and the Tanith First is left without a senior commander, the regiment is merged with a Belladon covert unit and becomes the 81st-1st Recon. Following Colonel Wilder's death and Gaunt's return to command, the regiment resumes the name the Tanith First-and-Only. It is worth noting that following the merge with the 81st Belladon, the Tanith First's organisational structure changes; companies using alphabetical call-signs replace the previous numerical platoons. By the beginning of The Armour of Contempt, there are three cultural sections: Tanith, Verghastite and Belladon; led by Majors Rawne, Kolea and Baskevyl respectively (each is native to the section he commands).
Since its founding, the Tanith First-and-Only has served in the following campaigns and warzones during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, in approximate chronological order:
- Ramilles 268-43*
- Typhon VIII
- Spurtis Elipse
- Fortis Binary
- Menazoid Epsilon
- Oskray Hive (Sapiencia)
- Vervunhive (Verghast)
- Aexe Cardinal
- Ancreon Sextus
- Salvations Reach
- Gaunt's Ghosts Series (Novels) by Dan Abnett
- Titanicus (Novel) by Dan Abnett