The Lost Seas
King Tithian‘s famous First Edict was delivered from the king’s box in the Tyrian stadium, shortly after the assassination of Kalak and immediately following the announcement of his demise and the proclamation of Tithian as the new king. The text of the edict reads as follows:
“I, King Tithian the First, do hereby proclaim the immediate and total abolition of slavery in the city of Tyr and its associated territories.”
The Edict caused an immediate reaction from the assembled crowd, with most cheering wildly and chanting Tithian’s name. Many wealthy nobles and merchants remained silent, though, and had to be won over later by instrumental personalities like Agis of Asticles. In the days and weeks following the assassination, the particulars of the Edict were—and continue to be—the topic of much discussion and legal wrangling.
Some of the legal issues surrounding the interpretation and enforcement of the Edict are as follows:
Status of “persons”
Some have argued that the Edict does not apply to the monstrous races of the desert, such as braxats and even giants. Some have gone so far as to argue that the more bestial races—gith, tarek, New Races—also do not fall under the conventional interpretation of personhood, and can remain enslaved. Because so many of the monsters of the Athasian wilds possess a degree (sometimes substantial) of intelligence and psionic power (for example, the monstrous psurlon), a difficult slippery-slope argument has arisen about where to draw the line.
Generally speaking, Tyrian courts have ruled on the side of caution, exempting any intelligent race from conventional slavery. When a braxat is captured and worked as a guard, or sent to kill or die in the arena, however, the law gets a little murky, and there are still challenges and rulings to be made on the matter.
The city-state of Tyr is generally assumed to encompass the city proper and the immediate environs—half of Tyr’s population lives outside the walls but within a mile or two of the city itself. Tyrian military outposts and installations are also considered Tyrian territory, as are Tyr’s client villages (such as Kled in the north). Additionally, Tyr’s iron mines and other similar locations fall under the scope of “Tyrian territory”, and slavery is forbidden at all of these.
The areas between these locations, and the parts of the Tablelands, Wastes, and roads where Tyr generally has influence, are where things get tricky. Tithian has consistently sent the Tyrian military (often using the Crimson Legion) against slavers operating in a wide radius from Tyr (although, given the wildness of the area, reports continue to filter in of slavers and bandits preying on Tyrian villages—no different than they had during Kalak’s reign). In the first days after the Edict, slave merchants were unsure how serious the Edict was, and set up a slave market just outside of Tyr itself. That was swiftly broken up. When the slave traders moved further afield (half a day up the road), they were again rousted and sent packing. Tyr had proved the point that it was not going to simply give lip service to the new law, and slave traders began to give the western part of the Tablelands a wide berth.
One further issue is the handling of slaves brought into Tyrian territory by merchants, nobles, and envoys from other city-states (where slavery remains legal). Tyr has consistently stated that all slaves in Tyrian territory become free, and therefore most visitors grumble and hire free servants to attend to them when visiting Tyr, leaving their slaves at home (lest they risk their slaves simply walking off and starting a new life in Tyr). There have been cases, however, where especially powerful individuals have brought their slaves with them, keeping them in check by threats, magic, or force of will; it is always disturbing to Tyrians to see these cowering slaves marched through their streets, but unless the slaves choose to accept the freedom that is there for the taking, there is not much that can be done.
Immediate and total abolition
Freeing the slaves within Tyrian territory was simple enough; the extent to which the economic practice of slavery continued, however, was up for debate. Some members of the Revolutionary Council—Sadira of Tyr foremost amongst them—wanted merchant houses based in Tyr forbidden to derive incomes from the slave trade, even through their outposts in other cities. Much of the Council recognized the unenforceability and potential economic damage of pursuing that line of thought, though, and currently Tyrian merchants houses do continue to trade in slaves as long as the goods do not pass through the Tyr area in any way.
Some of the most radical voices in Tyr opined that Tyr was obligated to fight for the abolition of slavery in other city-states as well. The Council in general, though, does not want to pick fights with the powerful city-states of the region, and has not endorsed that viewpoint.
Conservative voices on the Council (and King Tithian) initially supported legislation that would forbid slaves fleeing from masters in other city-states from finding refuge in Tyr. Without such a law, they argued, other city-states would have a pretext and a reason to invade Tyrian territory, claiming that Tyr was encouraging their slaves to flee by providing safe harbor. The Council could not, however, stomach the prospect of turning away slaves seeking Tyrian ideals of freedom, and the law was never created. Indeed, since then, Tyr’s Crimson Legion has grown by absorbing fleeing gladiators, and its fields do not lack hands to work them. However, as predicted, the other city-states increasingly grumble about Tyr’s practices and even advocate war.