The Role of Tyrande Whisperwind in War of the Thorns and Elegy
Tyrande Whisperwind, High Priestess of Elune, was expected to be a major character in the War of the Thorns questline. Absent in-game save for rescuing Malfurion, many players were disappointed and thought she’d abandoned the Night Elves and given up easily.
However, in the novella
, she plays an important role from start to finish. As we’ve received lots of questions asking us to share more details, we put together this post focusing on Tyrande.
A Good War
include many details omitted from the questline. If you'd like to learn more about these plot details, we have a post covering
the entire plot of
A Good War
full Elegy lyrics
Saurfang character analysis
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The story opens as Tyrande talks to Cordressa Briarbow, a Sentinel returning from Silithus. Based on Cordressa’s report and Anduin’s spies, the Horde are making a move to reinforce Silithus, acquiring Azerite to cut off Alliance access and gain more control. Tyrande is working with Anduin to build up an army to send to Silithus, should the Horde make a move.
She learns from Renzik that Nathanos and Saurfang fought, with Saurfang winning the fight and Nathnaos punished, which leads the gathered Alliance members to believe that Sylvanas is favoring Saurfang and his plan for war. Unfortunately for the Alliance, this, along with other actions hinting towards Silithus, was a planned deception by the Horde.
”I would not bet against you, King Greymane.” Tyrande turned her glowing gaze to Anduin. “You are right, Kin gAnduin. Things
escalating. When I received your last missive, I sent orders to General Feathermoon to be prepared to receive soldiers. If we are all in agreement on this, I stand ready to dispatch them immediately. They can reach Silithus before the Horde does.
In chapter two, Tyrande writes a letter to Malfurion:
Although I miss you and the scents, sights, and sounds of our beloved city, my time in Stormwind is well spent.
For the first time in what seems too long, we are in perfect accord with our fellow members of the Alliance as to how to proceed. Azerite is too precious, and our world too valuable, for us to hesitate at any chance to defend it. What horrors might Sylvanas and her Forsaken create? What dire weapons might the goblins craft or the orcs and trolls devise? I am glad that the last shipment of defenders has departed for Feralas and that our army stands ready to act the instant it must.
Although I deeply respected the late king Varian, I must confess I had my concerns about young Anduin. I am pleased to report that he is proving every day to be a worthy successor to his father. He is so terribly young—but then, so very many are to us, are they not? And yet, he is either wise himself or willing to listen to wisdom, which is perhaps more important. It is wondrous to think that our people, the humans, the Draenei, an the dwarves all have priests in leadership positions.
Yet Anduin speaks of hope for a lasting peace even as we prepare for war. The loss of innocence is always bitter, but it is only with our eyes fully open that we can lead.
I am glad to be here to teach him what I may, and I am glad that he is listening.
Until next we embrace, my Malfurion.
The rest of the chapter details the Night Elves realizing the Horde have changed their plans and are attacking Ashenvale.
At the start of Chapter Three, Tyrande, along with all the other faction leaders in Stormwind, learns about the Horde’s plans.
The guard caught his breath, but when he spoke, it was not to his king. “Lady Tyrande—there’s been an attack—evacuations—beginning. Refugees—coming through portals.”
Tyrande went very still. For a moment, she looked like a statue, even more beautiful that Haidene in the Temple of the Moon. Only the vein beating rapidly at her throat broke the illusion. Then: “Take me to them.”
There were already a dozen refugees gathered by the time the four leaders reached the Wizard’s Sanctum.
Now, though, as if watching a transformation subtler but every bit as significant as that of Genn turning into his morgen form, he beheld the change in the Kaldorei leader from priestess to warrior.
She lifted her head, and when she spoke, her voice was calm and steady. “The Horde is attacking Ashenvale.”
As the faction leaders plan strategy, they know from the start that this battle will end in a loss. Players criticized the in-game questline for showing the Night Elves as weak and barely fighting back, but the book makes it clearer that they were greatly outnumbered and fighting back with numerous skirmishes—not to win, but to buy time to evacuate civilians.
”King Anduin?” It was the Sentinel—Eriadnar, Anduin thought her name was. “This is only the beginning. Shando Malfurion has issued orders for a complete evacuation—not only of the city but of the surrounding area of Darkshore.”
Then he believes there is no hope.
No one said it, but he could see that everyone present shared his thoughts.
Sylvanas, elsewhere in the novellas, also believed that the occupation of Darnassus would be a blow to morale for the Night Elves. However, many of her predictions regarding hope and human emotions were proven incorrect. For example, in her grand plan, she believes that after the occupation of Darnassus, Genn will drive in-fighting between the Alliance and push to reclaim Gilneas over Danassus. When Anduin speculates on this plan, Genn instead gives an impassionaied speech that his people are indebted to the Night Elves and they stand with the Alliance.
Tyrande makes the choice to stay behind in Stormwind to remain as a leader for her people. Mia Greymane is sent to evacuate the Gilnean people in Darnassus, but she makes a decision to resist Genn’s orders and stay for the entire evacuation.
Tyrande slipped an arm around a mother carrying an infant. When she spoke, her voice trembled for the first time since this horrifying ordeal had begun. “I long to return and fight beside my husband. But my people need to know that someone is here for them when they come through. And so…I will stay.”
Her eyes flashed. “For now.”
In Chapter Four, the Horde finds a way around Malfurion’s protective wall of wisps. Tyrande receives word that Darnassus is lost and that Malfurion goes to fight Sylvanas.
The high priestess slowly lifted her head. “Malfurion Stormrage has made his farewells.”
The refugees who heard her gasped. A few began to weep. Velen and Genn looked stunned, and Anduin couldn’t breathe.
Tyrande continued, still speaking with eerie composure while the girl clung to her. “The Horde attacked him and his soldiers from behind, and the wisps are scattered. Now, my beloved goes to face Sylvanas Windrunner, to hold the line while more Kaldorei escape a city that will soon become a prison.” She rose, stiffly, “ Go to join him.”
“Tyrande, you can’t,” Anduin said.
Tyrande seemed to come to life all at once, whipping her head around to stare at him. The girl, startled, drew back and stepped aside.
you wish to say that to me?” Tyrande asked, her voice shaking.
Calmly, he replied, “You would leave your people without a leader, at a time when they need one more than ever.” He pointed to the hundreds of night elves huddled in the cathedral, “Genn and Velen and I have already pledged to help the Kaldorei recover the World Tree. Die now, and you buy them a few hours. Live, and you will buy them a future.”
For answer, Tyrande simply stood straighter and remained silent.
Tyrande still decides to go, and Anduin gives her a hearthstone so she can escape quickly with Malfurion back to Stormwind.
Many players in-game were puzzled why Tyrande never fights side-by-side with the Sentinels or visits Darnassus. This excerpt from the novella shows that she does visit Darnassus and is extremely conflicted that she cannot assist with the evacuations. While the players know that the War of the Thorns ends in the tree burning, at this point in the novella, Sylvanas was simply planning on killing Malfurion and occupying Teldrassil.
The high priestess bent to listen to her words. “We hear that the Horde has destroyed the wisps, that the Sentinels are all dead, and that the Horde approaches with arcane fire to burn the World Tree.”
“None of those are true,” Tyrande said. “But…the Horde is coming.” She paused, wishing she need not utter the awful words. “And they will take Darnassus.”
Mia took a sharp breath, then squared her shoulders and nodded. “Are you here to help with the evacuations?”
“I cannot,” and Tyrande’s voice broke as her eyes swept the scene. “Malfurion goes to fight Sylvanas. I must aid him. If he wins that battle, the Horde will suffer a severe blow to their morale. They could even become disorganized for a time, which could allow more of our citizens to escape.
Tyrande then takes flight to find Malfurion, using the power of Elune to direct her to his location.
It was night. From atop her hippogryph, Tyrande beheld the grim sight of hundreds of night elves fleeing towards Darnassus from other parts of the World Tree, surging into the city and covering every inch of the pale white stone of its streets and the green of its grasses. And as the feathered wings of the great creature beat steadily, Tyrande’s heart broke even further.
For half a heartbeat, she wanted nothing more than to bring the hippogryph down, to die fighting alongside these courageous Kaldorei who knew the best they could do was take the enemy down with them as they fell. But Anduin was rightL she could not leave her people leaderless. She and Malfurion were needed more than ever.
“Forgive me,” she whispered to the Kaldorei soldiers, shivering from more than the bite of the night air. “But know you will be remembered.”
The next part of the novella plays out in a similar fashion to the in-game quest
. Tyrande saves Malfurion, Saurfang reveals they’ll both die if they head to Darnassus, Tyrande then leaves. In the novella, we get a clearer sense that Tyrande is uses the power of Elune to attack Saurfang, and has the upper-hand in this battle. She could easily kill him, but with the knowledge that Darnassus would fall, she lets him survive in the hopes that due to his talks of honor, he would be compassionate to the prisoners.
Tyrande cried out and sprang from the hippogryph. Elune’s light, blazing and bright and white, flooded the area. His back to her, Saurfang froze where he stood, gripped by her spell as if turned to stone. As Tyrande’s feet touched the ground, she shoved one hand forward hard. The orc was lifted up and flung to the side. He struck the earth heavily but was still alive.
Tyrande stood over her beloved as Saurfang looked up at her. The light she had summoned had re-formed into radiant, deadly spikes of illumination that hung over the orc’s white head. He squinted in the brightness, panting, but made no move to attack.
I can strike him down with a thought. And yet he meets my eyes and does not plead for mercy.
The lethal points of Elune’s light responded to her rage, becoming terribly, deathly, still. Their sharp tips pointed at his through. She longed to release them. But she did not. Tyrande had seen little enough honor from the Horde, and she believed Saurfang was ashamed. How long had he stood there, not striking the death blow—he, the high overload, a warrior who had shed blood a thousand times over?
The Horde would take Darnassus. When they did, a general who believed in honor, and who had received mercy, might in turn show mercy to the Kaldorei prisoners.
Some players were also concerned that Tyrande was cowardly for escaping and should have stayed and fought. However, at this point in the battle, all hope for Darnassus was lost. As Saurfang warns her, she would be killed if she were to return to Darnassus, leaving her people without a leader.
The Horde novella
A Good War
also highlights Tyrande’s power. Sometimes the two novellas describes events differently to show how there are multiple sides to a story, but Tyrande and the grace of Elune are described consistently between stories:
Still his axe did not move.
And then, very suddenly, she could not move at all.
Bright light enveloped Saurfang, paralyzing him, making it impossible to twitch a muscle. A nightly blow slammed into his head, throwing him five paces away. He hit the ground hard. The wind left his lungs in a single rush as he tumbled to a painful stop. When he looked up he saw the light of Elune, in all its fury and beauty.
She stood above her mate, arms raised, white dress rippling in the soft breeze. A dozen points of Elune’s light hovered over Saurfang’s head, poised for a final blow.
The orc did not move. His head was ringing. Those daggers of light trembled above him.
Struck down by the powers of justice? It felt appropriate.
Tyrande returns safely to Stormwind with Malfurion, and soon after, smoke starts billowing through the Stormwind portals. Tyrande and the other leaders know something is wrong but do not know that the entire tree is on fire. Most everyone assumes that the Horde has reached Teldrassil, and as part of the occupation, is burning part of Darnassus. We, as the players, know instead that Sylvanas has changed her plans and decided to burn the entire World Tree.
Smoke was coming through the portals, and Tyrande Whisperwind despaired.
Now, at last, the semblance of calm shattered., Panic was on the faces of the night elves; they raced through the portals into the Wizard’s Sanctum, trying to escape a fire that had inexplicably broken out in Darnassus—
“Clear the area! We need to make room,
!” Anduin shouted.
The Stormwind guards were quick to obey, picking up night elf children and rushing alongside their parents down the ramp and out into the open.
But more room would not make a difference. The fire was too much, too fast, and it was no ordinary flame. It reeked of magic bent to a task so cruel, so utterly devoid of even a scrap of compassion, Tyrande could scarcely wrap her mind around it.
Have I tempted fate with my arrogance, Elune? Is Sylvanas Windrunner beyond even your light, that she was burn Darnassus?
Here, Tyrande makes a choice to step back from the portals and pray to Elune. Others can take her role at the portal, but no one else has such a connection to Elune.
Heat buffeted Tyrande’s face, evaporating tears she hadn’t realized had fallen. Against all her instincts, she pulled back, letting someone take her place, and forced calm on herself. In this moment, when seconds counted, she could assist in a better way.
Elune…please let me help them…
And all around her, there was an intake of welcome breath as damaged lungs were healed.
the night elves fear that Elune is not answering their prayers. Perhaps Elune’s power is dampened with Sylvanas Windrunner’s presence of Undeath so close by. Tyrande continues to pray, even as no more survivors make it through the portal. Yet in Darnassus, the priestesses finally sense the presence of Elune.
The priestesses are able to heal Mia Greymane, crushed by falling debris in the Temple of the Moon:
He turned, agonized and helpless, to Astarii, but the priestess was already murmuring a prayer in her smoke-roughened voice. Light appeared from nowhere, limning her hands. Genn watched as his sweet Mia’s legs straightened, her bones knitted, her lacerated skin—
Her eyes fluttered open, and the child she held squirmed.
Fresh tears, not burn of smoke, stung Genn’s eyes.
“Elune yet hears us,” Astarii said, her face, even here, even now, soft with joy and wonder.
In the final moments of Darnassus, Elune provides peace for those who could not escape:
The last three priestesses of Elune in Teldrassil prayed. They did not ask for healing or for rescue.
They asked for mercy.
And their goddess heard them as Astarii began to sing.
By the moons’ glow, listen. Beside the river, listen. Holding those you love, listen. To the cries of the dying, To the whisper of the wind over the silent dead….
Sleep brushed Astarri’s mind, feather soft, honey sweet. The pain disappeared. She let out a sigh. All around her, she heard similar sounds.
The fire was relentless. The smoke would kill them, and the flames would devour their flesh and even their bones. Only ash would remain. But they would feel nothing.
When Genn returns through the portal with Mia and the infant, it is only then does Tyrande learn that the entire tree has burned.
He looked up at Tyrande, and the utter bleakness of his expression spoke more clearly than words the depth of what had happened.
“The tree is burning,” he said. His voice was hard and laced with pain.
“You mean Darnassus?” Tyrande asked, her words catching in her through.
,” Genn repeated. “I’m sorry, High Priestess. The Horde has burned the World Tree.” His eyes, bloodshot from the smoke, narrowed. “They will pay for this. I swear to you—
they will pay
Tyrande is dealt the crushing news, and in her grief, focusing on the last life rescued from Darnassus, the baby Finel:
Tyrande closed her eyes. “I said the tree would not be…” Her voice broke, She opened her eyes and looked at the child she held in her arms, covered with soot, but whole. Healthy. Alive. Tears slipped slowly down her cheeks. “What is her name?” She asked softly.
Mia shook her head weakly. “I don’t know.”
“Then, little one, I shall name you
. ‘The last.’ For you are the last Kaldorei to escape with your life.”
The novella ends with the leaders grieving for the World Tree, Anduin steeling himself for war, and Tyrande singing an elegy to the baby:
Then, so softly that Anduin could barely hear her, the high priestess of the night elves began to sing.
O little last one, listen
To the song my broken heart will ever sing
Of the story of the Tree of the World
And the death of all the dreams
It once cradled in its mighty boughs.
has a much larger role than in the Alliance quests. She acts pragmatically, remaining in Stormwind to survive, heal the refugees, and rule instead of rushing into battle. While she doesn’t fight much since her duties are required elsewhere, we do see how powerful she can be in her interaction with Saurfang. Perhaps due to the limitations of in-game quest animations, it was hard to convey the sheer power of Elune and how Saurfang was at the brink of death.
As the Alliance questline doesn’t really convey that they knew Darnassus would always fall, Tyrande’s choice not to rush into the city and avoid capture and death makes more sense. When she does return to Darnassus, en route to rescuing Malfurion, the novella makes very clear how conflicted she is that she cannot stay behind with her people and fight, even if she would die.
If Tyrande was responsible for Elune’s sudden renewed presence at the end of the novella, that could have implications for later in Battle for Azeroth. Sylvanas, towards the end of
A Good War
, hints that her ultimate goal is not Stormwind or Darnassus, but one that much larger forces would protest—including Elune. Perhaps Elune is dampened in Sylvanas’ presence naturally, and as we learn more about Sylvanas’ ulterior motives, conduits of Elune like Tyrande will play a larger role in the conflict ahead.
Hopefully if you were disappointed about Tyrande’s absence in War of the Thorns, this look at her role in the novella shows that she still played an important role.
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