The Church of Tal was a religion widely followed in the years following the Artificers’ War. It was notorious for its intense fear and hatred of magic, artifice, and those who practiced either. Though mostly limited to Oerik, the church may have made some inroads to lands beyond that, as the Book of Tal mentions the Northern Paladins of Parma.
According to a scholar of Lat-Nam, the Church of Tal most likely started as a religion in Yotia before the Artificers’ War, devoted to worshiping an ancient sun god. After the cataclysm that enveloped the world, people turned to religion to try and make sense of the destruction.
The reasons for Tal’s fear of magic and artifice are not clear, besides a passage from the Book of Tal which states, “Suffer not a magician to live.” The ancient cult Tal had grown from had witnessed the destruction and plunder of the land the Artificers’ machines had wrought, and many a rumor placed responsibility for the destruction of Argoth at magic’s heels. The first followers of Tal feared either craft growing strong enough to repeat the Artificers’ War or its climax, and heavily persecuted practitioners of both. This eventually went from persecution to hunting down mages and artificers and executing them.
The Church of Tal became popular throughout all of Oerik, particularly in the East. Eventually, the Church served as the governing body of many cities during the Dark period, and it enforced law through areas of its influence. The laws of Tal were based primarily upon its religious doctrine, the Book of Tal, which encouraged strong fundamentalism in its adherents, such as a strict moral code and the eradication of all mages, artificers, or members of other faiths.
The church of Tal is led by a Primarch, one of the two high leaders of the faith. Below the primarchs are the cardinals, who serve as the high priest in large cities. Below the cardinals are the bishops, who serve as high priest of large towns. Below the bishops are the vicars, who serve as high priests of smaller settlements, and the simple priests, who serve as clergy.
The rank of cardinal itself is broken into two different ranks, of which prelate is the higher. Prelates are cardinals who have authority over high priests of other cities.
Bishops are similarly divided into three ranks, that of primate, archbishop, and bishop. A primate is a bishop given dominion over a larger area, possibly a small city with multiple fiefs. An archbishop serves as high priest of a small city, too large to merit simple bishop rank, but without satellite authority.
An abbot is equal in rank to a cardinal, but given to the mastery of a monastery of Tal. Below the abbot is the prior, who serve as senior brethren to the remainder of the brothers and sisters.
Tal also has a militant arm.. Exarchs serve as paladin generals, with legates answering to them, and tribunes answering to legates. A centurio (sometimes styled captain) leads smaller military units, with decarnus acting in the capacity (and sometimes called) sergeants. The military is subordinate to the clergy where the rank is equivalent, so the exarchs answer to the primarchs, the legates must answer to cardinals, tribunes to bishops, and centurions to vicars. This provides a very clear chain of command. Should the primarch wish to send paladins to act in the domain of a bishop, if they are led by a tribune, they are subordinate, and if led by a legate, they do not answer to the bishop’s authority.
The final branch of the church of Tal is the Inquisition. An inquisitor has a clerical rank, and is allowed to utilize that rank as they see fit to purge heresy and evil from the world or even the church itself. The high inquisitor is a prelate, and typical wandering inquisitors are given the rank of vicar.