The Tau Empire
The exact date of founding of the Tau empire is unclear, however the reasons behind the foundation are. The Tau had become a culture built upon warring tribes. During this time, the Tau legends tell of the first appearance of Ethereals at Fio'taun. The fortress city of Fio'taun was under assault by the warriors from the plains. Though negotiation had been attempted, the fierce plains warriors would settle for nothing less than the annhilliation of the city of Fio'taun. For five long years the inhabitants held off the savage assaults with their thick walls and plentiful cannon. However, disease and starvation began to take their toll. As the tide of the siege turned, two mysterious Tau appeared. One made his way into the camp of the plains Tau, exuding a quiet authority that no Tau was able to resist. Soon, the leader of the plains warriors was persuaded to parley with the Tau of Fio'taun. Similarly, the other mysterious Tau made his way deep into the fortress. Within a few short hours, the gates stood wide open, and the Tau stood ready to talk. The Ethereals spoke of the importance of peace and understanding between all Tau. They described a Greater Good that each Tau must strive towards. The besiegers and the besieged quickly agreed with the Ethereals and a truce was reached. Across the land, Ethereals emerged, each with the same quiet authority and message of harmony and cooperation. With the Tau united, a great civilization began.
The Tau empire soon expanded its border through a series of Expansion Phases. The Tau empire has gone through 3 phases of expansion already. These phases are a period of several Tau military campaigns during which nearby worlds are colonized, conquered, or sometimes peacefully persuaded to join the Greater Good.
Therefore, apart from the star systems of the Tau, which are called Septs, the empire also includes the worlds and star systems belonging to the Kroot, Vespid, and the Nicassar. It is currently unknown if the Demiurg are full members, allies, or mere trading partners. The empire is composed by over twenty fully developed septs and around one hundered settled worlds, but the exact number and most of their names are unknown to us.
A known splinter faction are the Farsight Enclaves. Also, more recently some worlds and star systems of the Imperium have been conquered by the Tau forces, while a handful have seceded and pledged their allegiance to the Tau empire. At some point, the Tau sent an expeditionary force to the planet Malbrede where they came into conflict with the Ultramarines Chapter in 936.M41. However, the world proved to be cursed when their fighting awakened the sleeping Necrons from their tomb beneath the surface. In an effort to combat this threat, the Tau and the Ultramarines combined forces to defeat the Necrons. Once the conflict was over, the Tau were allowed to evacuate their forces by Marneus Calgar who proceeded to destroy Malbrede through an Exterminatus.
In 966.M41, the Tau fought against the Adeptus Astartes of the Space Wolves Chapter during the War for Kvarium Alpha. On that water clogged world, drop pods landed deep in the oceans where their occupants made a move to engage their enemy. On the surface, the battle was fought between the two sides with an equally deadly conflict erupting in the depths of the sea between the Space Wolves and Tau Battlesuits. Thunderhawk Gunships were used to great effect against Hammerhead tanks and Manta gunships with torpedoes, prop-bombs and missiles being used against the Tau. Ultimately, the Space Wolves proved to be the victor in the conflict where hundreds of Tau and Space Wolf corpses floated to the surface. With their mission complete, the Space Wolves made the long trek back to land across the sea bed.
Each race within the Tau empire, has a unique and different society. However all races have one common belief in the Greater Good.
Tau society is centred around the concept of the Greater Good, where individual Tau sacrifice personal gain in favour of benefiting the Tau race as a whole. It is from this philosophy that the Tau's all-purpose motto, "For the Greater Good!", is derived. The castes, although different in role and organisation, work together for the benefit of all Tau: the Earth caste provide and produce, the Water caste communicate and distribute, the Air caste connect the worlds of the Tau Empire, and the Fire caste protect. The external image of the Tau is that they are altruistic and idealistic, believing in the unification of all "for the Greater Good".
Kroot society is divided into tribes, known as Kindreds. Each Kindred is an extended family group of Kroot and is led by a Shaper, one Kroot with an intuitive understanding of the DNA absorption process all Kroot possess, and responsible for guiding the evolution of their Kindred. The Shaper, upon identifying a beneficial genetic trait, will instruct his Kindred to hunt and consume that animal, and then control the breeding of the Kindred to ensure that the offspring are born with the selected trait. Often, Kindreds will band together, and the Shapers will form a Council, of which the most influential Kindred's Shaper will be made leader of the group. On rare occasions, a Chief will unite a large number of Kindreds underneath him.
Kroot dwell in warm, temperate conditions on the worlds they inhabit, and construct large tree houses from animal hides, bound together by regurgitated dead wood. Some Kindreds reside in the ruins of the hive cities. There has been no obvious industry on Pech since the coming of the Orks, but Tau Research Teams have detected strange energy emissions, emanating from a collection of hills near their base.
The consumption of flesh is one of the key tenets of Kroot spirituality, as it is believed that the consumption of prey imparts the 'spirit' of the prey to the Kroot, which is then passed on to the Kroot's children. This is the average Kroot's understanding of their rapid evolution, with 'spirit' as a substitute for 'genetic trait'. As a part of this, the Kroot believe that when a warrior dies, his spirit should be kept safe by the Kindred. They will consider it their responsibility to consume the bodies of their dead foes, along with their own fallen and elders.
The Vespid warriors, called Stingwings, form tactical units referred to as Strains. Each Strain is lead by a Strain leader.1 Because the Vespid language is so complex (presumably because of their complex mouths) and only the Strain Leaders are given the apparatus to translate their language to their Tau allies, Vespid Strains are very close knit and a lot of reliance on Strain Leaders come from both sides.
Stingwing Strains are highly sought after in Tau Fire Warrior Cadres because of their high level of maneuverability. They are often used by Tau commanders alongside Crisis Battlesuits or used in a scouting role, backing up Pathfinders. In the Tau language they are referred to as "Mal'kor," which comes from "Mal" meaning insect and "kor" meaning air.
The Tau Empire hosts a growing population of humans. Ranging from ideological defectors to captured guardsmen and their children, they have been incorporated into the empire. While the humans from recently conquered worlds are often bitter, they do have Tau supporters among them from the start, and the number of those only grows larger. For the most part, the Gue'vesa are content and treated well, even being allowed to worship the God Emperor.