The Zhentarim is an organization of evil priests, wizards, and inhuman creatures bent on controlling all the trade and power between the Sword Coast (meaning Baldur's Gate and Waterdeep) and the Moonsea (including the intervening lands of Cormyr and Anauroch).


Manshoon founded the organization in 1261 DR to support his rule over the city of Zhentil Keep and his ambitions for the future expansion of his power. He allied with the Beholder Xantriph to deal partly with the growing internal threat of the charismatic priest Fzoul Chembryl was inducted into the ranks. With the Beholder aiding and manipulating him, Manshoon's organization began gaining power, prestige and wealth.

Manshoon took over the Citadel of the Raven. It became an impressive economic power. Attacks on Teshendale and Hillsfar gained them the entire Tesh valley and the village of Voonlar. They then placed Zhent-friendly rulers in Daggerdale and Shadowdale after their former rulers suddenly disappeared. By 1337 DR Manshoon had fully consolidated his rule over all Zhent lands and forces. Local Dales became very wary.

The Knights of Myth Drannor were drawn to the area and killed Xantriph the Beholder. All Zhentarim influence in Shadowdale was expunged. Fzoul, who was still in the Zhents, was still working within the organisation. In The Time of Troubles the Avatar of Bane landed in Zhentil Keep's temple, was destroyed and briefly possessed Fzoul until he could form a new avatar.

In 1370 DR Fzoul succeeded in driving Manshoon out. One attempted invasion of Shadowdale was repulsed. However, he was not dissuaded from his ambitions where the Dale was concerned.

The Zhents and Shadowdale

After three invasions over two decades the Zhent have finally taken Shadowdale. In 1374 the Zhentaril marched into Shadowdale from the north just as the Drow attacked. .Caught between two hostile forces, the Drow and the Zhent, and with its main defences stripped, Shadowdale was extremely vulnerable. Committing the bulk of his forces to repel the Drow, Lord Amcathra sent word to the approaching army and announced that the Zhentarim were now the allies of Shadowdale and that they would help maintain the law and the safety of its people.

The worship of Bane and Shar has been legalised though few of the native population care to follow such Gods.

Current Occupation

The Zhent, being whom they are, have brought an unpleasant atmosphere. They tend to be cruel and evil seeing the farmers of the dales as nothing more then mules to harvest food for their armies. Without her usual defenders Shadowdale is helpless. Many and many are the traders, craftsmen and women and business folk who are being bled dry. The demand for weopons for the Zhentarim is so great that the smithy is struggling and three Zhent assistants have been inflicted on the Selgard family to help them.

The weaver and seamstress are also struggling, for the workload is great and the recompense almost nothing.

The potter and breadmaker Meria Lulhannon is also under great pressure to provide enough for the army. His three pretty daughters have been sent far away from the town after some of the Zhent soldiery began to pay rough court to them. Others too have begun to send their children away.

Bandits have come in from outside sensing the new opportunities in Shadowdale and threaten many travellers to the East. There are fewer but better guarded caravans now and mutters of asking why the Zhent have not made good on their promise to protect the people.

The Zhent do however chase and arrest Drow when they see them though some rumours say that strangely, the morning after the arrest some drow-occupied cells are now empty.

Zhent Terminology

The Zhentarim is an organization of evil priests, wizards, and inhuman creatures bent on controlling all the trade and power between the Sword Coast (meaning Baldur's Gate and Waterdeep) and the Moonsea (including the intervening lands of Cormyr and Anauroch).

The Black Network - Much confusion exists in the Realms regarding Zhentil Keep and the (not-so) secret society known as the Black Network or Zhentarim. The two are closely tied, such that a speaker may refer to one when meaning the other and still be clearly understood.

Zhentil Keep is a walled independent city on the western shores of the Moonsea. It is one of the most evil cities in the Realms, a blight on the North, and a haven for Evil groups, plotting manipulators, dark religions, and foul practices.

Zhent - A person from Zhentil Keep. Not all Zhents are members of the Zhentarim.
Zhentilar - A defunct term for the military of Zhentil Keep to distinguish them from members of the Zhentarim.
Zhentarim - Can refer to either the organization itself or members of the organization (singular and plural).
Zhentish - A grammatically incorrect term that will bring derision on the user, even in lands unfriendly to Zhents.

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