We have now heard the very personal and tragic stories of four gnomes and their families and friends.
We have delved into the past, revisited horrible experiences, and talked a bit about how it impacts the four gnomes. But what about the bigger picture, what about the future? Let us finish this series with a look to the future, the future of gnomish culture and identity.
If you have not read the previous five articles in this series then I suggest you go back and do so.
One of the things I asked some of the four gnomes about is their view on the reclamation process, but we also had a talk about what it means to the gnomish identity and culture to no longer live in Gnomeregan.
I asked how often they think about Gnomeregan and the reclamation efforts.
Bertel Wobblespring: "Honestly I try not to think too much about it, at least about the fall, but I guess it does happen often that I miss it, like, it's like my real home, I think most Gnomes who grew up there feel that way. Like not really feeling that anywhere else is really their home"
Hardhy Lester: "So to you, Gnomeregan is not something you have forgotten in your day to day life, it still plays a big role?"
Bertel Wobblespring: "Yeah, indubitably, as I said, it's the only place that truly is home"
I think there was consensus amongst the gnomes on this one, but they had vastly different perspectives on how important it was in their lives.
Hardhy Lester: "Do you support the efforts to reclaim the city? As in, do you give time? money?"
Bertel went on to explain how the organisation he works for plays a big role in the reclamation effort:
Bertel Wobblespring: "Well, the organisation I work for is under Gnomeregan command, so in that way I suppose I do, also I help arrange the annual recurrent Gnomumental Gnomorial, memorial service that partially is about remembering, paying respect, remember and honour those we lost, and my parent both work for S.A.F.E"
In the case with Miss Greensprocket then she admitted that besides the most obvious, then it wasn't really something which is a big part of her life.
Glinda Greensprocket: "Wow, really asking the difficult questions, huh? Hmm... I'd help, but... what can I do? I hit stuff hard, I've no magical or technological knowledge to speak of... I'm sorta limited."
Hardhy Lester: "So you just don't see yourself having any skills to help out with?"
Glinda Greensprocket: "My parents ended up living in Ironforge, and they were made to feel right at home, so I was grateful for that. And I've been mostly welcomed here, but... truth be told, I have bugger all clue where we are with reclaiming the city. Being honest with you here, I don't tend to talk about it even to other Gnomes, so... yeah, I'd go with that."
Which leads us to the next lesson I learned from these interviews. The fact that most gnomes have a different perspective on the tragedy compared to other races.
Hardhy Lester: "Why do you think it is not something gnomes talk much about? When it comes to say... Gilneas then the Gilnean people are VERY vocal about it and never miss a chance to talk about it - same with other people from the north, and most night-elves get black eyes if you just mention fire. But gnomes seems more... I don't know, just don't really talk about it or mention it. Almost trying to forget it maybe?"
I know I am generalising here - of course not every Gilnean mentions the Gilnean catastrophe in every second sentence, just like some night-elves have found a sort of inner peace with what happened - but in my experience then gnomes are just more - I don't know if indifferent is the right word, but less vocal and aggressive about it at least.
Glinda Greensprocket: "Yeah, could be that. But a lot of us have made lives elsewhere now, we've settled and made new homes. For me, I don't think I'd want to go back because I've a life here and living out under the sun is... way better, I think."
It made us talk a bit more about the gnomish culture and what the fall of Gnomeregan might have meant to the gnomes and the future generations.
Hardhy Lester: "I meet more and more gnomes who has no interest in tinkering and technology, you think as time passes and gnomes grow up outside of Gnomeregan, technology and the traditional connection between it - and gnomes - will fade slowly?"
Glinda Greensprocket: "Hmm... Potentially, could happen. I didn't have an interest in it because I didn't have time though, I was too busy being third parent to my younger brothers, but... yeah, that might happen. There's a whole world out there and confining yourself to one small bit of it due to what you are sounds... kinda dumb. I'd say letting people choose what they wish to be is better than expecting things from them because it's what's always been expected."
This question gave some very varied answers. Glinda seemed to be the one who had the least conservative approach to the gnomish culture of specially tinkering and technology.
Bertel Wobblespring: "I think most Gnomes who actually lived there feel like this, though I do know some who think we should just give it up. I think it definitely had an impact on that. Like back then tinkering was something we were tought growing up, both from our parents and via the public education program. There has always been some though, who never got further than teh basics, and used their birth given great Gnomish interlect in other fields of study though. But, yeah, I think that has become more common, definitely."
Hardhy Lester: "So in a way, the longer it takes to reclaim the city, the less distinct gnomish culture becomes?"
Bertel Wobblespring: "Honestly as long as they don't waste their talents I am personally kind of fine with that, and as long as some still carry on the tinkering tradition. It is kind of the traditional art and craft of Gnomes. Part of who we are as a people. I think. Hmm...I guess to some extent, I think...Maybe...I don't think it will ever completely die out. For some of us I think perhaps even it made us even more aware of preserving it"
Hardhy Lester: "So you are not worried gnomes born in Stormwind will eventually not care about Gnomeregan?"
Bertel Wobblespring: "Well, I suppose they would not feel the same way, I guess that is only naturally, they wouldn't be attached to it in teh same way, like they wouldn't feel that that is their home, but...I think it is important that they do learn about it, what happened, how we used to live, our traditions...And I do worry that they might waste their birth given talents, and perhaps not even really feel like real Gnomes anymore"
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Hardhy Lester: "Would you say Gnomeregan is a big part of being a gnome?"
Bertel Wobblespring: "Hmm, well it is for me, I think it is for most Gnomes who grew up there, and it was the greatest technological marvel on Azeroth, though I guess maybe not after the discovery of Mechagon, so it is important that the young Gnome learn about it at least...But I wouldn't say it defines what it means to be a Gnome. It's something else, like in out mind and hearts. So yes, it's important that the young Gnomes who didn't grow up there learn about it, but I wouldn't expect them to feel like it is their home. I do think though maybe that part of how most Gnomes think and approach, might stem from growing up in Gnomeregan."
Bertel seemed to feel very strongly about and while he did not necessarily think every gnome had to be a tinker, then he did have a very conservative view on culture and family values, and not wasting your birth right and talents.
Wizzlesprigg Endeltire: "Hmm I suppose it's a case of nature and nurture. If they're raised in Stormwind, there's well, a lot fewer engineering guilds and establishments then we had back then so less opportunities to get into that side of things. Also depends on the parents and upbringing, if the parents don't tinker, then they can't teach the younglings."
And Wizzlesprigg landed somewhere in the middle, making it more about choice and parenting.
When I asked Wizzlesprigg about this it also led to a deeper conversation about both blame but also forgiveness.
Wizzlesprigg Endeltire: "Mmm when you have a direct experience of one of the situations I guess it becomes harder to say. They gave an estimate of what, 60-80% of the gnomish race inhabiting Gnomeregan being lost in that time. I can't speak that much for how much the Gilneans lost, obviously they've had far different circumstances and have been inflicted with uh, I don’t know what they want to call it a curse or a gift."
Hardhy Lester: "Curse, I think most see it as."
Wizzlesprigg Endeltire: "But I think they seem to dwell on it a lot more then the Gnomes. Whilst we need to learn the mistakes of the past, we cannot look entirely there and form our whole outlook from that past. We need to look to the future, and where to go next. That’s where the gnomish outlook is different to that of the Gilneans at least. I've not known many humans from Lordaeron to give an accurate impression. But obviously we've all heard of what happened to Darnassus, and I suppose for a race so long lived. Such a major disaster for them is an extreme change. I suppose in terms of how many elves where lost, and the whole city being destroyed it's near comparable"
Hardhy Lester: "Do you think it plays into it that - in part - gnomes did it to themselves?"
Wizzlesprigg Endeltire: "Mmmm. It's hard to say if we did it to ourselves. Of course, the High Tinker did release the gas."
Hardhy Lester: "That is what I meant. I know the Trogg invasion wasn't exactly the gnome’s idea of fun. But that - in hindsight - horrible attempt at a solution was approved by the High Tinkerer"
Wizzlesprigg Endeltire: "We also have Thermaplugg to blame, the advisor to the High Tinker. There's of course rumours about his motivations to suggest the leaking of the gas. "
Hardhy Lester: "Aye, that does play into it, but traitor or not - still a gnome. Not an outside force. Just curious if you think it is different if you don't have someone to directly blame for it, to be angry at"
Wizzlesprigg Endeltire: "I don't know if that’s a fair way to look at, because a potential traitor was gnomish, was it the gnomes fault. "
Hardhy Lester: "There is a ton of arguments for and against, but definitely not as clear cut as an enemy army at your gates."
Wizzlesprigg Endeltire: "I don’t know if there's one simple thing to place blame on really. I at least don't put blame on the High Tinker, nor do I have the facts to accuse Thermaplugg. I just put it down to sheer accident. Even if it is costly. If the dwarves woke up the troggs, do we blame the dwarves for unrelated activity that caused it? I'd find it hard to. Do we then fault whoever created the Troggs in the first place? How far do we take it back? Until we just blame the forces that made the world. Therefore we need progress and look to the future."
Bertel also thought blaming the High Tinkerer was out of the question, here is what he had to say on it:
Bertel Wobblespring: "I know some who do, but blaming someone for believing what they think to be their best friend and closest advisor, to not be able to imagine a fellow Gnome acting like a Goblin son of a Trogg, no...I don't. We are lucky to have him lead us. Best Gnome for the job, and he proved that more than enough. In fact, I think he ought to, no offence, but chosen to be the Alliance High Commander. That's how much I believe in his skills. Would be the best person for that job honestly."
This is a very logical approach to it, although I find it interesting neither seems to want to blame the High Tinkerer, Wizzlesprigg does very much show the attitude towards the whole thing which I have come to expect from gnomes. A healthy approach which focussed on the future, on progressing, overcoming, and not on blaming, pointing fingers and hating. Perhaps a few other races could learn from the gnomes?
If there was one thing all three of them agreed on then it was the fact that they were grateful for The Lion's Roar to bring their stories, to tell the history of the gnomes. All of them thinking that while living in the past does no one any good, then history should also not be forgotten. Forgiven, yes, forgotten no.
I’d like to finish this series of articles with thanking the gnomes who took their time to talk to me, who willingly relived their personal horrors and went back in time with me to talk about the pain and loss they suffered. Without them, these articles would not have been possible. The future of the gnomish race is perhaps troubled, and their culture might be under pressure.
Lastly, I bring this plead from Wizzlesprigg, who is still looking for his lost brother:
Wizzlesprigg Endeltire: "And Thimwizzle, if you somehow read any articles this may find its way into, please make contact with the parents, they'd be greatly relieved."