The Alliance War, also known as the Three Banners War, was a war that occurred during the Second Era, which began in 2E 580 shortly after the First Aldmeri Dominion was formed after Queen Ayrenn returned to the Summerset Isles after decades of adventuring. The three alliances involved were the First Aldmeri Dominion, the Ebonheart Pact, and the Daggerfall Covenant, all of which were fighting to rule Tamriel.
In 2E 578, Emperor Varen Aquilarios was convinced by Mannimarco that he knew a ritual which would allow him to become Dragonborn. Varen desired to further legitimize his claim to the Imperial throne by lighting the Dragonfires in the Temple of the One in the Imperial City, which can only be done by one of the Dragon Blood. Mannimarco and Varen were joined by Sai Sahan, Lyris Titanborn and Abnur Tharn, the Five Companions. During the ritual, however, Mannimarco incapacitated the others and declared he had tricked them all; he was a servant of Molag Bal, and the ritual was actually one that would weaken the barriers between Mundus and Coldharbour.
Clivia Tharn was soon after named the new Empress Regent of Tamriel and turned the Empire to Daedra worship, in particular to Molag Bal. Her father Abnur Tharn was the High Chancellor of the Elder Council and Overlord of Nibenay, but Abnur despised Molag Bal and his minions, thus dividing the Tharn family in two. Clivia managed to convince Mannimarco to use his Necromantic abilities to resurrect Imperial Soldiers to bolster the Empire's forces. When the alliances saw that the Empire was weak, they took advantage of its weakness in an attempt to expand their territory. Thus, the war began.
The Ebonheart Pact consists of three races: the Nords, Dunmer, and Argonians. It was originally founded during the Second Akaviri Invasion, and remained an alliance when Molag Bal and his Daedra forces invaded Tamriel. It is widely considered to be one of the most politically unstable alliances in Tamriel's history, as all three races have a history of wars and hardships with one another. The only motive that kept them together was their common goal of preserving their freedom and independence from the Dominion and the Covenant, as well as their hatred of the Akaviri and Molag Bal's forces. The capital of the Ebonheart Pact is Mournhold in Morrowind and is led by Jorunn the Skald-King.[OOG 1] The Pact was formed out of necessity after the Second Akaviri Invasion, 5 years after the Covenant was formed.
In Cyrodiil, the Pact's home territory spans 6 Keeps (Kingscrest, Farragut, Arrius, Blue Road, Chalman and Drakelowe), 1 Outpost (Sejanus) and they control 2 Elder Scrolls (Chim and Ghartok). Their main supply line to Cyrodiil is through Morrowind and their forces there are commanded by Grand Warlord Zimmeron.
The Pact's motivations for fighting are to fight off all invaders and to preserve the independence and freedom of their homelands.
The Aldmeri Dominion is made up of Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajiit. The faction was originally founded to overthrow the Empire and restore Elven rule to Tamriel. The three races in the faction consider themselves to be the most civilized and intelligent of all the races of Tamriel. They also believe that they could rule Tamriel better than any human could, and that they were chosen by the Divines to rule. The capital city of the Dominion is Elden Root in Valenwood and is led by Queen Ayrenn from the Summerset Isles.[OOG 2] However, there is some internal conflict in the Dominion, which threatens to destabilize the entire alliance if not kept at bay. The Dominion was formed in 2E 580 by Queen Ayrenn after months of diplomacy between Summerset, Valenwood and Elsweyr.
In Cyrodiil, the Dominion's home territory spans 6 Castles (Bloodmayne, Black Boot, Faregyl, Alessia, Roebeck and Brindle), 1 Outpost (Nikel) and they control 2 Elder Scrolls (Mnem and Altadoon). Their main supply line to Cyrodiil is through Elsweyr and their forces there are commanded by Grand Warlord Sorcalin.
The Dominion's motivations for fighting are to restore Elven rule to Tamriel - the land which they settled long before men arrived from Atmora.
The Daggerfall Covenant is made of Bretons, Redguards, and Orsimer. Similar to the Ebonheart Pact, the three races in the Covenant had bad histories with one another. But due to trade disruptions against all three provinces, much poverty and suffering was caused. This in turn caused the three races to all unite as one faction in order to save their people. The Covenant's capital city is Wayrest in High Rock is led by King Emeric.[OOG 3] The Covenant was formed in 2E 567 after the events of a brutal civil war in High Rock known as King Ranser's War.
The Covenant's home territory spans 6 Forts (Rayles, Warden, Glademist, Ash, Aleswell and Dragonclaw), 1 Outpost (Bleakers') and they own 2 Elder Scrolls (Ni-Mohk and Alma Ruma). Their main supply line to Cyrodiil is through Craglorn in Hammerfell and their forces there are commanded by Grand Warlord Dortene.
The Covenant's motivations for fighting are to restore the Empire and to end all the chaos and suffering going on in Tamriel caused due to the Empire's collapse.
- The Ebonheart Pact controls the largest amount of territory, while the Aldmeri Dominion and the Daggerfall Covenant control the smallest, though their overall territory is roughly the same size.
- The Alliance War is a central plot point of The Elder Scrolls Online.
- The true outcome of the war and what happened to the three alliances is unknown.
- While the Aldmeri Dominion existed in later centuries, the Dominion at the time of Tiber Septim was called the Second Aldmeri Dominion, indicating that it is a different alliance from the First Dominion at the time of the Alliance War.
- All three alliances collapsed sometime before the conquest of Tiber Septim, the reason for this is unknown.
- The Imperial Legion refers to the Covenant, Dominion, and Pact as "Provincial Militia" out of contempt.