Who Is: Tawnos (Brothers' War Edition)

In this video, we take a look at Tawnos, trusted apprentice to the master artificer, Urza, and a key player in Magic: The Gathering's Brothers' War storyline. 

In this video, we take a look at Tawnos, trusted apprentice to the master artificer, Urza, and a key player in Magic: The Gathering's Brothers' War storyline. 

Video Transcript:

Welcome back to Who Is on Magic Untapped as we explore the backstories and origins of various Magic: The Gathering characters.

In this episode, we take a look at Tawnos, the trusted apprentice to the master artificer, Urza.


Tawnos was a gifted and ambitious amateur artificer in the Yotian city of Kroog.  His talents did not go unnoticed as the city’s master artificer, Urza, took him under his wing as his student and apprentice.

In fact, many of Tawnos’ creations – most of which were inspired by living creatures and nature in general – would inspire many of Urza’s later designs.  Over time, Tawnos would become not just one of Urza’s most trusted friends, but also a close friend to his master’s wife, Kayla bin-Kroog, the then Princess of Yotia.

As Urza’s conflict with his brother, Mishra, and the Fallaji nomads he would soon assume leadership over intensified into a full-scale war, Tawnos found his role and his creations change.

Urza, now in charge of Yotia after the passing of his father-in-law, promoted Tawnos to the rank of master artificer.  Together, the two created a number of machines to help in the war effort, including animated clay statues, metallic soldiers, and a coffin meant to trap Mishra in indefinite stasis so that Urza would have the option to not slay his kin if it came to that.

The war already well in motion, the Fallaji arrived in Kroog promising peace.  Mishra attended the talks, along with his master artificer and trusted associate, Ashnod, as did Urza and Kayla.  The peace talks went well with Mishra offering to stop the violence so long as Urza forfeited the mightstone – Urza’s half of the broken powerstone the brothers found in the Cave of Koilos when they were young and the main cause of the strife between them.

Urza, not wanting to relinquish ownership of the mightstone, turned Mishra down and he and Kayla retired to their quarters.

Tawnos awoke Urza, and inquired about his wife’s whereabouts.  Puzzled, Urza quickly noticed his mightstone missing and rushed to Mishra’s cabin whereupon he found his disheveled wife offering up the mightstone to his brother.  Enraged, Urza snatched the stone from his wife’s hands and used its power against Mishra.  In the fray, Tawnos managed to capture Ashnod, but Mishra and the rest of the Fallaji were able to flee.

Urza gathered a contingent of his forces and went off in pursuit of his brother, only to return having failed to do so whereupon he found Kroog almost in ruins – Mishra having lured his brother out of the city only to attack it while he was away.

As Urza talks to various survivors, he located Tawnos who informed him that he was able to spirit away most of their blueprints and other plans via ornithopter during the attack.  Kroog forfeited to the Fallaji, Urza returned to his tower to plan his next step.  Shortly thereafter, he was joined by Tawnos, along with Kayla and Harbin.

A year or so later, Urza went on the offensive using many new machines that he and Tawnos had constructed.  In one of their raids, Tawnos found himself captured.

Ashnod, who had been freed with Mishra’s sacking of Kroog, interrogated him for information, but found herself growing increasingly fond of her opposing peer.  Nicknaming him “Duck,” the cruel, sadistic Fallaji artificer gave Tawnos a way of escape – an act that Mishra would then exile her for.

The land of Yotia increasingly becoming a blasted landscape through years of war and resource overexploitation, Harbin, now a young man and a commander in his father’s forces, discovered a nearby island ripe with lumber and other materials that could help sway the exhaustive war in their favor.  Unfortunately, the Fallaji also soon discovered this island – one known as Argoth – and the two armies began vying for control of it as well.

It’s on Argoth that Tawnos again ran into Ashnod, the artificer having been previously dismissed from her services.  Here, she handed to him an ancient bowl-shaped item called the Golgothian Cylex and instructed him to give it to Urza, saying it has the power to end the war.

It’s about this time that everything goes haywire as the mechanical armies on both sides went berserk.  Gix, a Phyrexian demon who had been playing both sides from deep in the shadows, approached the pair.  As he attempted to kill Tawnos, Ashnod intervened and allowed him to escape harm at the cost of her own life.

Tawnos succeeded in returning to Urza, whereupon he handed over the Sylex and reported to him the existence of the demon-like being who had confronted him.

Understanding the artifact’s power and potential to end the decades-old war; the master artificer resolved that its use is worth it regardless the cost.

He sent Harbin off island and sealed Tawnos inside the stasis-inducing coffin of his own making for his own protection, then activated the cylex, which triggered a blast that would not just end the war, but would forever change the Dominarian landscape and future of not just one plane, but the entire multiverse as a whole.

Five years later, Urza – now a planeswalker – opened Tawnos’ coffin and woke the artificer from his slumber.  He then asked him for a favor: To return to Kayla, to inform her that he had perished in the war-ending cylex blast, and to look after her for him.

In agreement with his longtime friend, Tawnos returned to the mainland and lived with Kayla, helping her to raise Jarsyl, Harbin’s son and her and Urza’s grandson.

Oh, by the way the name “Tawnos” is an anagram of the name “Watson,” who was Sherlock Holmes’ famous assistant just as Tawnos was to Urza.  Just a little trivia for you.

I’ll be back next month with another story of one of the players in Magic: The Gathering’s iconic Brothers’ War storyline.

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Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.