Profile of a Warchief - Or - "Sylvanas did nothing wrong"

General
Allright, clickbaity title aside, here's the deal. A lot of people have been expressing frustration, anger, upset, FURIOUS MURDEROUS RAGE, and a bunch of other of those pesky "emotion" thingies following recent events, particularly the Sylvanas Warbringers short. Now, i would like to address some of those concerns, and perhaps try to help you explain Sylvanas and her actions a bit. You know, before they send us to murder her.

This post will have 3 major sections, as follows:

1. Sylvanas : Anatomy of a misunderstood savior

Now, to understand Sylvanas actions, you first have to understand her motivations. To do that, you need to understand the fundamental principle that govern her personality.

To Sylvanas, life is pain. Life is unrelenting, unmitigated, unending SUFFERING, and it's NEVER EVER going to get any better. Anything that happens to make it seem like life is anything but complete and abject misery is a LIE, and exists only to make everything so much worse when it fails. Nothing you've ever accomplished or overcomes matters, because it's all just meant to drag out the pain and make your life that much worse when you realize it's all pointless.
LIFE is PAIN, and then you die, and if you're really, REALLY lucky, you stay dead. Because if you're unlucky enough to come back, it's all going to get SO MUCH WORSE if you die a 2nd time, so stay alive as long as you can, at any cost.

Now, all of this has been built up over a LONG time. To cite some sources, in "Warcrimes" by Christie Golden, Sylvanas learns the lesson of dashed hopes. Helping her sister to attempt to assassinate Garrosh and simultaneously lure her to her side in undercity (note here that the plan to kill Vereesa wasn't out of any particular malice, but more a matter of simple necessity. A living elf simply wouldn't be able to function in the undercity. Now you can argue that a good deal of selfishness goes into this, but there's no particular malice on Sylvanas part here. At least not towards her sister. Now, when Vereesa betrays their plot to Anduin and leaves Sylvanas hanging, the emotional trauma hurts Sylvanas so badly that the only catharsis she can find it to go on a rage-fueled rampage and murder everything she comes across, to bury the pain under hate and bitterness.

Now under normal circumstances, a person under that kind of psycological and emotional duress might very well try to kill themselves, simply to end the pain. However, we know from Sylvanas previous suicide attempt (and subsequent ressurection) that dying again as an undead would simply make things even worse. As we know from the "Edge of Night" story, the void is gonna !@#$ you up when you die as an undead. So even if life is pain, it's gonna get WORSE if you die as an undead, so that option is out.

This brings me to Sylvanas recent actions, as depicted in "Before the Storm" by Christie Golden, the Windrunner sisters comic, and the recent warbringers short. With her worldview previously explained, i think Sylvanas actions take on a new context. Sylvanas isn't trying to destroy people, she's trying to SAVE them. She's trying to make people understand that life is agony, and that hope will only serve to make it all worse in the long run. To quote Raistlyn Meyers: "Hope is a carrot you dangle in front of a donkey to make it move. We should abandon hope and go forward with open eyes."

Death, is an end to pain, and so as far as Sylvanas would be concerned, the dead are the lucky ones. However, she's also trying to protect the undead as best she can. They don't have the luxury of dying, so they MUST be educated, and protected. Even to the point where she's willing to sacrifice those undead who seem to be beyond saving. She's willing to sacrifice the lost causes to protect the rest. Meanwhile, she's trying to educate the living on the nature of their existence. Our dying night elf at Teldrassil a point in case. Hope, cannot last, life is pain, but your pain will soon end, and you will be safe with your loved ones in death.

Now, some will argue that Sylvanas takes far too much pleasure in what she does to be altruistic, but i disagree. Most people ENJOY doing the right thing. Most people also enjoy saying "i told you so" no matter how much they might say they don't. This is basically what Sylvanas is doing. Every atrocity she commits, every hurt she inflicts, is her proving her point. It's basically her going "See? SEE! I TOLD YOU SO!"

Sylvanas isn't trying to hurt people. She's trying to save them. From life. Because life is pain. Life, is the enemy.
2. The burning of Teldrassil

Now, a lot of people on the Horde side have been speaking out against the burning of Teldrassil, citing it as an extreme action, that had no basis, practical or tactical. In this section i will cover the tactical reasons why Teldrassil not only would, but HAD to be destroyed. The moral aspects i leave to you, but would remind you that far worse has been done in war, both in the real world and the world of warcraft, by both sides. Google "Firebombing of tokyo" for a real life example.

Now first, let's address Teldrassil itself, and it's strategic importance. From a Horde Military perspective Teldrassil is a massive enemy stronghold. It is not only the base of operation of one of the major hostile military organizations (the Sentinels) and those milita and independent agents and forces associated with the Sentinels, but it is also a major military port, sustaining a significant fleet presence (the night elf navy) and an unquantified, but assumed substantial, airforce (Chimeras and gryphon riders). For all intents and purposes, Teldrassil is the keystone of alliance military operations in Kalimdor. While there are alliance outposts throughout kalimdor, most of these are either directly associated with Teldrassil and Darnassus, or could at least be reinforced by the Darnasian navy. On top of this Teldrassil is a major logistical hub and serves as a trade port which no doubt lends substantial economic force to the Night elves, and allows the movement of suplies to critical locations and communities in Kalimdor.
If the horde goal is to control Kalimdor, and by extension silithus and the azerite, Darnassus must be neutralized.

Now there are several options for this. The first would be to blockade Teldrassil while the horde wipes out all the isolated alliance outposts on the continent. This, is not a viable option as it would not only require the horde to commit a sizeable fleet presence, but simultaneously split their ground forces to an extent that would make individual elements vulnerable to counterattack, and would take enough time that alliance reinforcements from the eastern kingdom might arive and turn the horde flank. This could leave the horde forces in disarray with a united Alliance force marching up the length of Kalimdor, mopping up isolated elements and either attacking the horde blockade for from the rear, or forcing them to retreat to Orgrimmar. A costly failure in either case.

The second option, is to conquor Darnassus and occupy it with a Horde force, basically claiming it for the horde and making it assume the same role, only for the Horde. This, is not feasible, because of the very nature of Teldrassil. The Night elves would have major terrain advantage, and unlike in Ashenvale, moving large amounts of war machines and forest clearing machinery up the side of what is, essentially, a mountain of wood, would be incredibly difficult. The Night elves could run guerilla tactics on the horde occupation force for years, bleeding them for material and manpower. Not only this, but the natural defences of Teldrassil itself would likely oppose the horde, in the form of elementals, wildlife, etc. Even if the horde managed to clear out the night elves, they would still likely face a hostile enviroment as the tree itself turned against them, similar to the problems the night elves while the tree was corrupted, before Malfurion blessed it. The only group that could conceivable be able to hold the tree effectively, are the Tauren druids, and in an atmosphere of extreme faction tensions, any group with ties to purported "neutral" groups, such as the Cenarion Circle, would be a potential security risk. (The latest debacle with the priests of netherlight temple being an example) Especially when that organization features the leader of the opposition, Malfurion, as a prominent member.

In short, Teldrassil HAD to be destroyed, and fire does pretty good for trees. From Sylvanas point of view, killing a large amount of night elves in the process, liberating them from life and proving her point once again, is simply a bonus.
3. Morally Grey

Right. Now considering recent events, a lot of people have objected to the term "Morally Grey" that Blizzard has been using to describe Sylvanas.

The important thing to note here, i think, is that while Blizzard is mis-using the term, their intended meaning, makes sense. If you look at Sylvanas, and take into acount the previously described worldview she holds, it would seem clear, that Sylvanas believes she is doing the RIGHT THING. She doesn't see her actions as morally objectionable, because her goal is to relieve suffering. It's kind of like the difference between stabbing people and performing surgery. Both are technically cutting someone open with a knife, but one has the goal of actually relieving pain in the long run, while the other is intended to cause it. Sylvanas believes she's helping people.

Now, while this makes her actions morally justified from HER point of view, it certainly doesn't make her morally grey. HITLER believed he was doing the right thing, few people would describe him as morally grey. What blizzard really means, is that Sylvanas isn't EVIL. Sylvanas is the most common, and most dangerous, kind of villain: The kind that believe they're doing a good thing that must be accomplished at any cost.

This is also why comparisons to Garrosh and the Lich King fall flat. The Lich king had a pathological need for control and wanted to achieve that control by eliminating all life. Garrosh was completely reckless and had a need for personal and racial glory that justified his actions. Sylvanas, is trying to SAVE people. She is, at heart, an altruist, albeit a very twisted and traumatized one.

Now i would love to get into a discussion about objective morality, universally preferable behavior and why moral relativity doesn't work, but that would take another 20 posts, so i'll hold it here :p

I hope this helps someone, let me know what you think below ^^
tldr
Why is everyone shocked??? This is Sylvanas.
Why is everyone shocked - this is a story and there’s more to come. I for one am intrigued where they will take it. Plenty more twists to come.
Why is everyone shocked??? This is Blizzard.


Fixed that for you.

P.S. Wonder what Bill Roper would say about this crap...
Why is everyone shocked?

Pretty much the exact same thing was done by the 'good guys' in the real world during WW2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki
31/07/2018 19:18Posted by Zanmarea
Why is everyone shocked?

Pretty much the exact same thing was done by the 'good guys' in the real world during WW2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki


Do you know what abomination imperial Japan was? If it was assaulted by ground forces many more would have died.
31/07/2018 19:25Posted by Rockthief
Do you know what abomination imperial Japan was? If it was assaulted by ground forces many more would have died.


They killed civilians? People argue that Sylvanas is killing civilians and it cannot be justified. Why is this justified then?
31/07/2018 19:25Posted by Rockthief
31/07/2018 19:18Posted by Zanmarea
Why is everyone shocked?

Pretty much the exact same thing was done by the 'good guys' in the real world during WW2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki


Do you know what abomination imperial Japan was? If it was assaulted by ground forces many more would have died.


How many more would die if a race of 'near' immortals continued a gurriella war against the horde?

The average Night Elf 'civillian' probably has had more hours of militia training in their centuries and millenia of life than the average Horde Elite has.
I for one cant wait to see what else they have planned for her, this just got more interesting then ever.

i don't get those who just keep on going on that shes gonna become a second Garrosh even when the story isn't even finished yet, Just wait until its done and then rage about it if you want xD
How many more would die if a race of 'near' immortals continued a gurriella war against the horde?

The average Night Elf 'civillian' probably has had more hours of militia training in their centuries and millenia of life than the average Horde Elite has.


What are you talking about? Sylvanas started the war.
She's pretty much imperial Japan attacking the US without even declaring war.

How you manage to convince yourself that this is morally grey is beyond me.
I guess someone will defend blizz no matter wat
31/07/2018 19:25Posted by Rockthief
31/07/2018 19:18Posted by Zanmarea
Why is everyone shocked?

Pretty much the exact same thing was done by the 'good guys' in the real world during WW2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki


Do you know what abomination imperial Japan was? If it was assaulted by ground forces many more would have died.


I'd rather say, USA was perfectly capable to just flatten Japan with normal bombs, it was just a coincidence that they needed a target to test a new toy and give USSR a spook. Japan, being an insanely xenophobic racist state that decided to poke world's giants with a sword while being so small you might need a looking glass to even find it on the globe, provided. You could not bomb Germany since it's in the middle of freaking world, but a far-far away backwater island nation nobody loves? That's just too convinient.

Also, if Japan have not become a USA protectorate after that, by now China would have wiped it clean, like no atomic bomb can. With vengeance.

In other words, it has zero similarities with Terdrassil situation.
I already covered most of this. Don't forget to read the post, please XD
31/07/2018 19:35Posted by Feygore
I already covered most of this. Don't forget to read the post, please XD


Look i don't want to be after you, but those long af wall of texts posts i really dislike. I prefer that in a podcast format or similar instead.

Go go hating on me.
31/07/2018 19:34Posted by Rockthief
How many more would die if a race of 'near' immortals continued a gurriella war against the horde?

The average Night Elf 'civillian' probably has had more hours of militia training in their centuries and millenia of life than the average Horde Elite has.


What are you talking about? Sylvanas started the war.
She's pretty much imperial Japan attacking the US without even declaring war.

How you manage to convince yourself that this is morally grey is beyond me.
I guess someone will defend blizz no matter wat


Did she start the war, or did the alliance when they attacked Azerite miners?

As for defending Blizzard?

Nah I'll defend them for writing this as morally grey, seeing as peeps can't even decide if the USA was the good guy or the bad guy when it came to dropping the nukes, and they just nicked that reasoning for Sylvanas.

I do however think BFA is flawed, we just teamed up against an army of immortal space demons, why are we fighting each other again?
31/07/2018 19:39Posted by Izzyfuriouss
31/07/2018 19:35Posted by Feygore
I already covered most of this. Don't forget to read the post, please XD


Look i don't want to be after you, but those long af wall of texts posts i really dislike. I prefer that in a podcast format or similar instead.

Go go hating on me.


I don't have a podcast... If you don't like the format, that's fine, but i can't really do anything about that :( It would make it a bit hard to comment properly on the post though, if you haven't read it, in my oppinion.
Nah I'll defend them for writing this as morally grey, seeing as peeps can't even decide if the USA was the good guy or the bad guy when it came to dropping the nukes, and they just nicked that reasoning for Sylvanas.

You completely ignore the context of both examples.
In your real life example you have a regime that started a war by backstabbing the enemy (by attacking without declearing war) and that refused to surrender no matter the consequences.
In the wow example you are defending a person that backstabbed the enemy and proceeded to slaughter civilians when she had already WON

As for the Azerite miners, remember that this is an extremely deadly weapon that the Horde miners out to harvest. It is also the life blood of the world which means that the horde is literally killing everyone despite Magni's warnings
Sylvanas believes she's helping people by killing them. Take special note to her lines to the night elf : "Life is pain" and "you'll be with your loved ones soon."

as for the Nukes: Japan actually surrended before the 2nd bomb was dropped, and the US was perfectly capable of wiping japan out with conventional bombing (see the fire bombing of tokyo)

The primary goal of the nuclear bombs seem to have been as a detterent to russia, who had a military presence on the nearby peninsula.

Now personally i would argue that murdering civilians by the thousands just to prove a point is rather reprehensible, either way, this thread was intended for discussion of sylvanas, not the 2nd world war ^^

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