This week, we learn about
Tezzeret is an artificer, born from the Alaran shard of Esper. What he lacks in magical power or creativity he more than makes up for in drive and ambition, intellect, and talent as an artificer. The experiences that have shaped him into the man that he is have left him bitter and jaded about the nature of power, right and wrong, and the frailty and flaws of the human body and mind. Though he would rather akin to a precision machine of deliberate orderly design, he is a human crippled with the flaws of temperament and ambition. The only thing of consequence that he truly cares about is his right arm, which is crafted from a metal made of pure magic, etherium.
Tezzeret was born to poor parents in the caverns of Tidehollow. His father was a scrapper, those who live and recycle the refuse of the higher class; his mother, a whore. So apathetic was his upbringing, he was never given a name by either of them. He was raised as much, if not more so, by the streets and his fellow street urchins. It was on the streets where he was finally christened. A “tezzeret” was Esper slang for an improvised weapon used for stabbing, a shiv. He got this name when he finally lashed out at an older boy who had bullied him.
Tezzeret’s life would take a turn from bad to worse at the approximate age of seven (such precise dating does not happen in the slums). His mother was begging on the streets of lower Vectis when she was run-over and killed by the carriage of a guildmaster from the big city. His father took Tezzeret with him to recover her remains, and in doing so taught him two important lessons that would forever define the sort of person Tezzeret would choose to become.
First, it is not out of a desire to do so that the powerful take from others, but simply the way of things. Those with power take from those who can not resist them. Second, the word that most defined the world power was that of “mage”. They were those who wielded the most power in this world; those who could most strongly resist being taken from. With these nuggets of wisdom, Tezzeret vowed that he would become a mage, and escape the blunt, cruel existence afforded to him in the slums of Tidehollow.
With the loss of income offered by his mother’s whoring, Tezzeret joined his father’s work in the streets as a scrapper. Tezzeret found that he was unusually skilled at the task. At the time, he thought himself some sort of natural genius at the chore, but later in life he would learn he possessed a skull the Vedalken refer to as Rhabdomancy, a natural inclination for finding valuable and rare metals and minerals. So good was he at the task, that his father eventually stopped working, allowing Tezzeret, a child, to make a living for the both of them.
His ambition began to take hold in this stage of his life. He began to steal some of the etherium he had been gathering from his father, occasionally allowing himself to be caught so that his father would think he was too stupid to steal properly. He also began rising through the ranks of the various street gangs of Tidehollow. His temperament and amazing capacity for holding a grudge also became known during this period as those who crossed him would find their mothers stabbed to death.
At the age of eleven he had amassed enough etherium to pay for a living greater than that which he had and ran away from home. He used part of his cache to position himself as an apprentice for an artificer. He swore apprenticeship to seven years, but left after only three, having mastered all that his ‘teacher’ knew. Using his Rhabdomancy he acquired more etherium, murdering a few bandits in the process, afforded him membership into the Mechanists’ Guild. A man who knows what he wants, he sought to be unparalleled in the craft of etherium. Most of his peers in the guild were the spoiled children of rich well-to-do families; a complete lack of appreciation for subtlety or waste. He would often craft his assignments out of the scraps they threw away with considerably fewer working parts.
The apprenticeship that would normally take seventeen years, Tezzeret finished in five. He cemented his mastery of the craft when he severed his right arm and crafted a replacement out of the etherium stones he had spent a lifetime collecting. The Guild immediately offered him the position of master, which he immediately turned down. He left for the Seekers of Carmot.
The Seekers were a sect in Esper who claimed to know the secret to manufacturing etherium. Naturally, Tezzeret wanted in. For a time, he made do at the academy, though he made enemies. Some through his constant question of, if they knew the secret to crafting etherium, then why was not all of Etherium blessed. Most notable of his enemies was Silas Renn, a daft man but a powerful mage, whose family fortune afforded him almost an entire body of etherium. Many times did they have duels with one another, and not once did he win.
Eventually the powers that be used these accumulated failures as an excuse to eject him. He did not take the rejection well. He murdered the headmaster and broke into the vault where they kept the secrets to creating etherium written upon the Codex Etherium. What he found inside were blank pages. The Seekers had lied to him, and to everyone else. The ingredients to make Etherium, sangrite and carmot were a myth, as was its fabled creator, Crucius the Mad. He was caught in the chamber and was to be killed there, were it not for his latent spark.
He was flung across the eternities and landed upon the nearby shard of Grixis, where he was very quickly scouted by the elder dragon, Nicol Bolas, who promised Tezzeret power for his servitude. He became an agent of Bolas’ working for his interplanar mercantile organization, the Infinite Consortium. This proved fruitful for Tezzeret until he managed to uncover a secret. Nicol Bolas had spent time on all of the shards of Alara, founding organizations to spread propaganda to prepare the shards for war. Among them was the Seekers of Carmot. Once again, Tezzeret felt betrayed.
He spent some time instilling his own agents throughout the organization on multiple planes, and in one fell swoop, had all those who reported to Bolas assassinated. The day to day operations of the Consortium were headed by individual leaders on each plane, they alone knew of this and reported to Bolas. No one else in the Consortium was ever the wiser.
Being the properly paranoid man that he was, he feared retaliation from Bolas for his treachery. The Consortium’s largest cell was on the plane of Ravnica, and it was there that he scouted the mind reading planeswalker
He put Jace to the test when Bolas sent a courier to the Consortium to settle a dispute over mining rights on a plane that the Consortium shared with Bolas’ new organization. Jace was ultimately insufficient to ward Bolas off, and the two of them were nearly killed. Tezzeret punished Jace severely for his failure, cutting him with a manablade, a knife that would severe a mage’s manabonds and inflict excruciating pain in the process. Shortly thereafter, Jace went rogue, taking one of the Ravnica cell’s best strongarms, a swordsman named Kallist Rhoka, with him.
Eventually, Jace found his way to Tezzeret’s personal stronghold and the two of the fought, chasing one another from plane to plane. Tezzeret was tricked by Jace when he followed him to a swamp in Kamigawa where Tezzeret was assaulted by a tribe of ratfolk whom had been attacked by Consortium agents before. During the fight Jace hacked Tezzeret arm off with the manablade and destroyed his mind, leaving him to the ratfolk.
Tezzeret was recovered by Nicol Bolas. He had recovered Tezzeret’s body and restored his mind, with a few changes, and regrown his lost arm, unfortunately of flesh. Bolas was never one to forsake a useful tool, and he still had use for Tezzeret. He admitted to Tezzeret that he was responsible for founding the Seekers of Carmot, but also that not all that they told was a lie. Carmot and Sangrite were very much real, as was etherium’s creator. It turns out that Crucius the Mad was very much real; what’s more he was the only one capable creating etherium, and was able to do so because he was a planeswalker. And Tezzeret was to find him.
To ensure Tezzeret’s loyalty, he removed some of Tezzeret’s worst features from his psyche; his condescension, his temper, and implanted him with a mental construct called Doctor Jest, who would monitor his activities and punish Tezzeret in the event of betrayal. Tezzeret was sent back home to Tidehollow. In the process of reacquiring a stash of etherium he had hidden, he set off a trap and narrowly avoided being destroyed by the elementals that guarded his stash. Predicting who had laid the trap for him, he set a trap of his own and managed to capture Jace Beleren and subdue his unexpected bodyguard, Baltrice.
Using Jace’s life as leverage, he convinced Baltrice to help him with his ultimate goal; revenge on Nicol Bolas. They traced a trail across Esper, meeting its queen Sharuum. Then they shamed Silas Renn again and again, learning the secrets and tragic truths of Etherium, and eventually finding Crucius’ private plane. On this pocket plane, made entirely out of etherium, Tezzeret planted traps for his adversaries. He revealed to Baltrice that she had been brainwashed by Jace and was able to subdue Bolas and plant Doctor Jest into his consciousness instead.
Now free from Bolas’ control, Tezzeret walked away, when much to his dismay he found himself accompanied by Jest once more. It was near impossible to out gambit Nicol Bolas, it would seem, and even if the secrets to etherium were out of his grasp, Bolas still had tasks for Tezzeret.
He was sent to the plane of Mirrodin, where the resurrected forces of Phyrexia had taken hold. Bolas tasked Tezzeret with monitoring their activities and preventing any one faction from taking control of the accumulated Phyrexian forces. These subversive acts put him at odds against many of those who thirsted for power on New Phyrexia, such as the Praetors, Geth, and Glissa, but Tezzeret held his own. He established himself into a position of power and began to bide his time, gaining power and planning his ultimate revenge against the elder dragon that tethered him.
To learn more about Tezzeret, you can check out the Planeswalker webcomics and read the novels Agents of Artifice, Test of Metal, and Quest for Karn. To see Tezzeret in action check out the Elspeth versus Tezzeret duel deck, Shards of Alara, and Mirrodin Besieged!