Part 30: ThanatarThanatar, of course, is the Chaos God who is foe to Lhankor Mhy, and is called the Head Hunter and the Severed God. His priests can imprison souls in severed heads and steal magic and life from them.
When Wakboth entered the world, Chaos came with him. His son, the chaos god Tien, commanded the most powerful legions and fought in the destruction of Genert's Garden. Tien's legion headed south, but was routed by a vastly outnumbered army which used a clever strategy devised by Lhankor Mhy. Later, Lhankor Mhy was delivered into Tien's hands by treachery. Tien planned to use ritual magic to suck Lhankor Mhy's wit and learning dry, but Lhankr Mhy escaped Tien's black pit. Tien became obsessed with destroying and stealing the wisdom of the Knowing God.
After the Spike exploded in the Greater Darkness, Tien stalked the shattered mountain and found a golden room, where he found the Mistress of the Light of Knowledge. He used a garrote to sever her head, leaving her body to the rats of chaos. He used his magic to seal her soul in the head, and draw forth her learning. Thus, he stiole all the light of previous knowledge, allowing ignorance to become supreme in the Darkness.
Hrothmir the Horned Hero, son of Storm Bull, sought to find and destroy Tien, who could not flee, for all paths of living end in Hell. Hrothmir severed Tien's head, shattering his magic and freeing the Mistress of Light, but Tien's body enveloped Hrothmir in Darkness, and the hero was lost. Tien took Hrothmir's head for his own, but his magic was weakened, and Hrothmir's head was lost to corruption. For the rest of the Darkness, the headless god-corpse of Tien, known as Than, wandered the mountain catacombs and the chaos dens, seeking the heads of others to place on its shoulders.
Lhankor Mhy, in the Lightbringers' Quest, found the severed head of Tien, but could not destroy it, for it had powerful magic and evil will. He took the skull with him out of Hell and cast it into the Ocean. The water deities were appalled and cast it onto a small island. There, burned by the light of Yelm, the skull brooded and hated for centuries.
The cult of Than persisted, and eventually, a traitor of the priesthood of Lhankor Mhy found the skill of Tien, hidden in the catacombs of a city in Kralorela, where he established a te cult of the Horned Skull Atyar, Devourer or Knowledge.
Eventuarlly, the Than and Atyar cults met each other, and a new cult was formed: Thanatar, the Severed God, with Than and Atyar as subcults. This did not, however, reform Tien, for the parts were lesser than the whole even when joined, and neither part would sacrifice its nature for the greater union. It is said that the skull of Tien remains on the plane of mortals. Some say the broo hero Greegrog retrieved it and was made immortal. Others say it remains beneath the rubble of that nameless Kralori city.
After death, Thanatari are led to the Place of Waiting, and from there are drawn back to the world as familiars to the living: thus, life after death is promised to the faithful. Their corpses are made into zombies and skeletons. The cult of Than has the Runes of Death, Darkness and Chaos. The cult of Atyar has the runes of Chaos and Truth. The combined cult of Thanatar has both.