Hero Wars era Tarsh (post-Dragonrise, pre-Battle of Heroes) has a population of about 360k people. The core of Tarsh is a Lunar Heartlands colony centered on Furthest. There is a smaller satellite colony around Dunstop.
These colonies are overwhelmingly Lunar in character – in the city of Furthest almost half the adult population are initiates of Lunar cults, and in the rural areas around Furthest that percentage rises to more than half the population. Think the Greek colonies in Central Asia – these Tarshites are self-consciously Lunar. And not as converts to the Lunar Way – they likely claim (often spurious) ancestry going back to those who followed Hon-eel in the Fifth Wane, and the Maize Goddess is very popular there (indeed on the maps you can see this area as the Maize Belt).
Bagnot in contrast has less than a quarter the city population initiated into a Lunar cult, but more than a quarter are initiates of Orlanth. In the rural areas around Bagnot, the Lunar percentage drops to less than 10%, while the Orlanth cult membership stays the same (increased percentages of Ernalda, Maran Gor, Babeester Gor, and Humakt make up the difference). Bagnot more resembles Lunar Occupied Sartar than it does the area around Furthest.
Slavewall is quite similar to Bagnot.
Dunstop is interesting, as it is the mixing ground. Although a third of the city follows the Lunar Way, they are outnumbered by Ernalda and her son Barntar (Orlanth Thunderous). In the rural areas, more than a third follow the Lunar Way and Hon-eel is particularly popular. But over half follow Ernalda and Barntar (Orlanth Thunderous). Some speculate that this situation only works because the charisma of the Orindori clan, who manage to straddle being Red Goddess initiates while maintaining the loyalty of the local farmers.
Goldedge and Ever-New Glory are Sun Dome Temples that protect a rural population that is roughly a third Lunar, a third Orlanthi, and a third Yelmalion. Their presence helps defend Tarsh against trolls and half-trolls from the Stinking Forest and beyond.
As an aside, that means if you are expecting the area around Furthest – fully a third of the total population of Tarsh – to rebel against the Lunar Empire or the Lunar Way, you have a long wait. They are as Lunar as an Heartland satrapy – far more than most other Provincials.
Dunstop and Kordros Island are tied to Furthest by the charismatic Orindori clan of Vostor Blacktooth and his descendants (including the great Fazzur Wideread). Meanwhile, there are two Sun Dome Temples that the rulers use as a counterweight to the Orlanthi and the trolls.
As long as the Lunar rulers follow that basic gameplay – keep the Orindori happy and maintain the Yelmalio cult as a buffer – they really don’t have to worry about rebellions in Bagnot, Slavewall or the hill country. And what ruler in their right mind would decide to drive a wedge between Furthest and Fazzur Wideread?
Fazzur is a Red Goddess initiate. He is Illuminated. See:
Note that Fazzur is not a Sartarite. He’s a Lunar. His father was a retainer of Phargentes back when he was an exile prince in the Lunar Heartlands. His elder brother was a Red Goddess initiate who helped cast the magic that killed Prince Terasarin. Fazzur became a Rune Lord of Yanafal Tarnils, was Illuminated as befits a Lunar noble, and an initiate of the Red Goddess. You don’t get more Lunar than Fazzur Wideread.
And yet he also understood the barbarians (like his friend Sor-eel). He could understand their perspective and he did not hate them. And like Sor-eel, he found their honesty and directness, even in rebellion, was preferable to the intrigues and secret Dart Wars of the Heartlands. Think of him as a Agricola-Tacitus figure – no doubt he has written monographs like the Report on the Orlanthi, which favourably contrast the perceived virtues of the Orlanthi against the decadent mores of the Heartland nobility.
BTW, the map above makes it quite easy to see the areas that are Lunar-dominated, with the Glow Line extending almost to North Post, but not quite.
I’m confused by the politics. I thought worship of Orlanth was deprecated in Tarsh. But cities like Bagnot have people openly worshiping him? A lot of this gets down to practicality and resources. The Lunar Empire simply does not have sufficient resources to wipe out the Orlanth cult in the Provinces through force.
So the difference between the treatment of the provinces and Sartar Orlanthi is that the provinces aren’t in active rebellion. There are lots of differences. The Sartar Dynasty had been a determined and very successful opponent of the Lunar Empire for over a century before the Lunar Conquest. Not an existential threat like Sheng Seleris, nevertheless Sartar was a thorn in the side of the empire for generations.
Think about it from the Lunar perspective. Hon-eel managed to capture Dragon Pass bloodlessly in 1490. A Lunar colony was established in Tarsh and that should have extended the Empire to the borders of the Holy Country.
Instead a random Orlanth cultist established a new dynasty that was richer and more influential than Tarsh! Tarsh was torn by civil war and within a generation Hon-eel’s dynasty was exiled. Sartar grew rich from trade – its might was paid for by the empire. Worse yet Orlanth was established as a foe that the empire had to deal with. Sartar delenda est.
Now after 1628, this system of alliances in Tarsh has collapsed. The Sartarites hold Bagnot and are allied with the Orndori. They are allied with the Feathered Horse Queen. And no doubt the Sun Dome Temples are disentangling themselves from Furthest.
Still Furthest proves a hard nut to crack and holds on for another year or so.