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The Four Castes
The Tau Art of War
The youngest of all the races in the 40k environment, the Tau have a special history, based on evolution and speed, which has warranted them the title of the fastest evolving and fastest advancing race.
Most of the great races are old, being millennia old and some are even older, however what all of these races have worked to achieve, or at least preserve in some cases, the Tau have found their way to the stars and to highly advanced weaponry within only 2,000 years, which is where the name "The Young Ones" stems from.
The Tau originate in an Eastern galaxy far from the reach of most, however, were well known of prior to their ascension. The Imperium was indeed aware of this galaxy as were other races no doubt, however due to the lack of any technology, it was deemed a place where only feral life existed. However, turning their heads for merely a spec in time, there is now a vast empire spanning from planet to planet and is slowly but surely encroaching upon some of the larger and older races' boundaries-hence their place in 40k.
What we know about the TauThe Tau evolved from a more feral state and began evolving very rapidly and in their rapid development, began early with warfare and conflict amongst their own kind in a very primitive clan against clan fashion show down. Biologically and mentally, they were prepared at this point to become what the Tau are now, but without unification they were simply squabbling for bits of terra and traditional grounds.
Enter the Ethereals.
The Ethereals suddenly appeared amongst the Tau and with a very peculiar way, were able to unite the Tau and calm their blood. There is no information available beyond speculation upon whom or where they came from, but what we do know is that without them, the Tau would probably have never risen to where they are today.
Once the Tau were united, a rigid caste system took form, with a very Utilitarianism attitude which can be better understood as the Greater Good. Once all Tau were united under the Greater Good, their work began and they quickly reached the stars with massive starships, incredible weaponry, superior technology and all at speeds beyond comprehension.
Most notably is the caste system which can be broken down into four categories, each with their own specific roll in the Greater Good and in service of the Empire. These casts were created by the Ethereals, and the members of each caste have been genetically modified in a very basic manner to suite their roll as well as having their moral instated to ensure they want to do their part for the Greater Good. Each caste is absolutely vital in supporting the infrastructure of Tau culture, and as such, each caste has an equal importance and roll in the Greater Good.
The Four Castes
Fire CasteThe Fire Caste is the military aspect of the Tau castes and they are the guardians who protect the entire Empire with arms. The life of the members is predetermined via selective breeding and they locked into the life of a Warrior. Warriors are highly disciplined and follow a very fast track ranking system, which is the only way for a Fire Caste member to ever leave the fight.
The Warriors are required to perform battle and defend their Empire and if they survive long enough, may eventually become a council to better serve the political nature of the Tau. A notable trait of Tau warfare is the disdain of brute force, mainly involving hand to hand combat as they prefer advanced weaponry and precision.
Earth CasteThe Earth Caste are the core of the Tau Empire, they are the workers and food producers. They operate the factories, produce all the technology and produce all the food that sustains the Tau Empire. Most notably, these workers know exactly what their technology is, how to produce it, and are capable of improving upon it.
Water CasteThe Water Caste is the non-warfare Caste that has contact with other races. They are the politicians and the bureaucrats and negotiate with their correspondences that they come into contact with via expansion and trade. The Water Caste simply makes the Tau system run smoothly as they are the first to be met when colonizing, making transit and trade or greeting others.
Air CasteThe Air Caste are the pilots and couriers of the Tau. They are an unseen group that makes it possible for the Tau to go from point A to points B and C, as they deliver goods and even Warriors to important engagements. The Air Caste is special in that it also is responsible for some War Fare that is carried out from their navy, which is not a part of the Fire Caste and operate such a function on their own.
EtherealsSpecial mention is warranted to the Ethereals as they make up a mysterious 5th Caste. The Ethereals hold the very fabric of Tau culture together and dictate its future as well. The power of the Ethereals is absolute and obeyed without question. There is no knowledge of how they hold such power over such a vast Empire, but that is a mystery that the Imperium of Man must be very interested in...
The Tau Art of WarThe key element of the Tau is their method of warfare amongst both themselves, prior to unification, and their enemies. The Tau way of warfare is an honorable one in that only what needs to be done, is done. Gross casualties, on either side of a fight, are not enjoyed by the Tau and finding a non-violent manner to avoid a confrontation is generally a priority where it is possible. When the Tau do fight, it is an incredible display of coordination of ambushing and precision firepower, the likes of which none have seen. Nothing gives a Tau Commander more satisfaction than a single precise execution of a maneuver or weapon execution that accomplishes perfection in a single blast.
The Tau are ever expanding and constantly meeting new forces which must be reckoned with, or dealt with. As such, the Tau ways of War is a system of treaties, alliances, and subjugations and out-right annihilations as nothing may stand in the way of the Greater Good...