Tau Background

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 What we know about the Tau
 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 Tau

The 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 Caste

The 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 Caste

The 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 Caste

The 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 Caste

The 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.


Special 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 War

The 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...


1. No Subject

yeah the ethereals are their own caste, but that was alredy in the article. good job, more pictures to reel in the new kids.

Posted by lieutenant psgsaint, 21st June 2009 at 04:06pm [Report to Mod]

2. No Subject

look at the new codex, some of your information is now wrong, or close to it. but all up, a fair decent read. Smiley

Posted by Zepher_3, 26th May 2009 at 03:48am [Report to Mod]

3. No Subject

a few mistakes, but a good summary of Tau.

Posted by LordZanuu (LZ), 29th January 2009 at 11:20pm [Report to Mod]

4. No Subject

actually according to the most current codex (the one with the product code of 60-03-01-13-002)it was 6,000 thousand years it took them to get to their current stage of development

Posted by miniaturerat, 18th December 2008 at 03:32am [Report to Mod]

5. No Subject

pure_khaos you missed the 2 years of training in the proggression and you need a trial by fire to get to the rank of shas'la. to get the progression for other castes replace fire with the caste and replace combat with whatever the caste does except

Posted by trooperpaul, 23rd June 2008 at 12:54am [Report to Mod]

6. No Subject

nice resume, a few typos and rather short but overall wery nice

Posted by Rumblestaff, 4th June 2008 at 07:32pm [Report to Mod]

7. No Subject

I read that the etherals have high pheromone levels which somehow gives them the ability to influence other Tau.

Posted by Taumeister, 12th April 2008 at 02:19am [Report to Mod]

8. No Subject

When you have a chance, here's what should be changed

Eastern Fringe, not galaxy

The Etherals are the Aun caste, or Celestial

the etherals created the caste's, BASED on the tribes be

Posted by Pure_khaos, 26th February 2008 at 07:15am [Report to Mod]

9. No Subject

tau are from eastern fringe, not eastern galaxy.


Posted by taugundrone, 18th February 2008 at 07:00pm [Report to Mod]

10. No Subject

good overview, though there are a few mistakes. for example, according to a historical account in the fire warrior novel, the four main castes simply evolved from the four tau tribes that were fighting each other before the ethereals appeared, rather than

Posted by Thamian, 10th February 2008 at 10:57pm [Report to Mod]

11. No Subject

dudey, a few mistakes but overall thats awsome!!!

Posted by Trash-Candle, 4th August 2007 at 02:38pm [Report to Mod]

12. No Subject

The Tau are not from an eastern Galaxy, just the Eastern Fringe of the Galaxy.

Posted by Donuts, 25th February 2007 at 04:19am [Report to Mod]

13. No Subject

there are five castes the etherals are a caste called the aun caste in tau.

Posted by manta, 10th November 2006 at 09:44pm [Report to Mod]

14. No Subject

Arn't the Ethereals also called the "Celestial Caste"?

Posted by dredd0606, 6th November 2006 at 11:23pm [Report to Mod]


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