The Great House Telvanni is one of the Six Great Houses of Morrowind.
Traditionally isolationists, while most House Telvanni Wizard-lords pursue wisdom and mastery in solitude, some ambitious Telvanni members were actively involved in the colonization of Vvardenfell in the Third Era. They did so by building towers and bases all along the eastern coast of the island. The Telvanni believe that wisdom confers power, and power confers right.
They work with the other Houses on some rare occasions, such as the breaking of the monopoly of the Mages Guild that House Hlaalu had the initiative to stand against. Many Telvanni were known to be necromancers, some of which drove themselves mad with the practice, and their retainers were often involved in illegal activities that made House Telvanni unpopular amongst other Houses. Given their distrustful and xenophobic nature, this is likely the way they preferred it to be. House Telvanni was the main source of business for the Morrowind slave trade, a fact which likely led to their brutal crippling by Argonian invaders in the Fourth Era. Many, if not most, of the oldest Telvanni wizards living on the furthest eastern coasts of Morrowind were thought to be either Vampires or Liches.
As a rule, House Telvanni was obscenely wealthy. Some accounts claim that as a whole, in the later years of the Third Era, the House had a net worth rivaling the riches of the Imperial Treasury. Much of this financial leverage was greatly mitigated by the fact that many Telvanni exhausted their resources with ceaseless bickering and in fighting. Entire cities had been known to change hands repeatedly between two or more Telvanni Wizard-lords over petty grievances and minor disputes that had, over the centuries, grown into major blood-wars. Often, the citizens of Telvanni controlled regions did not care much for or even especially notice the internal politics of the Great House, as abstract magickal vendettas between lofty, never-seen plutocrats and their legions of paid pawns rarely interrupted the lives of the common Dunmeri serf. A few notable exceptions to this did occur in instances of Telvanni lords massacring each other's logistical assets, but the House had various ways of making such occurrences "disappear" when the public outcry became too great. Additionally, a great deal of Telvanni wealth was spent on purely hedonistic extravagance and many luxuries for which most Telvanni had no real use.
Unlike other organizations in Tamriel, Telvanni did not bond themselves to each other. They valued their personal independence and privacy above anything else. Belonging to House Telvanni did not mean much for its members. They had just one rule: there are no rules. Telvanni described it with the following words: "If you steal from another Telvanni, but still live, then clearly you deserve whatever you stole. Murdering your opponents by magic or treachery is the traditional way of settling disputes. If you win, then clearly your argument has more merit. You may be expelled as in any other Great House, but most Telvanni will not care or even know about it." Telvanni had only a formal administrative system, and their House served only to discuss common interests and share resources amongst the truly magickally gifted. Most Telvanni wizard-lords loathed the Mages Guild, considering it a pedestrian organization filled with no-talent hacks, impotent old blowhards, has-beens, and other assorted conjurors of cheap parlour tricks.
Telvanni architecture is dominated by the wizards' tower, a fantastic organic form grown and sculpted from stems, caps, and root-like holdfasts of the giant native mushrooms. Telvanni villages are comprised of smaller mushroom pods hollowed out for craftsmen and commoners. Open-air markets often include the giant cages displaying the wares of the slave masters.
Telvanni prefer to build their towers without stairs, forcing visitors to bring some sort of levitation with them. This not only granted them more seclusion, but also acted as a sort of test to see if their visitors are worthy.
In the Third Era, House Telvanni had a plan to peacefully occupy all uninhabited parts of Vvardenfell in their own distinctive way. Any major construction projects in Vvardenfell required the consent of the Duke of Ebonheart, which was patently hard to obtain, and all other organizations who were not particularly friendly to the Empire struggled to gain territory in that system. The Telvanni, however, had no fear or respect towards Imperial law, and younger House Telvanni retainers were frequently sent, occasionally with a contingent of slaves, to build their own towers across the remote regions of Vvardenfell, never asking or informing anyone. According to the House's plan, as the towers grew to towns, most of Vvardenfell would de facto become theirs. Almost all Telvanni were powerful, wealthy wizards, and could protect themselves against the law, but such expansion was a danger for all other Great Houses. As a result, the other Houses sometimes attacked less-protected Telvanni outposts.
The eruption of Red Mountain in the Fourth Era likely destroyed much of the Telvanni holdings on Vvardenfell and some on the continent. According to Lymdrenn Telvanni, the end came for House Telvanni shortly after the end of the Red Year, when the Argonians invaded Morrowind to take revenge on the Dunmer, who had enslaved their people for hundreds of years. Being the greatest practitioners of slavery in Morrowind, the Telvanni received a great deal of the Argonians' fury, some of which is described in the journal of Lymdrenn Telvanni. According to his description, the Argonian forces murdered the Telvanni without mercy. Their genocide was so great that as of 4E 201, Brand-Shei, the son of Lymdrenn, and Brelyna Maryon are the only known few surviving members of House Telvanni in Skyrim.
In The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn, it is revealed that members of House Telvanni have settled on the island of Solstheim, led by Neloth from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. This contradicts Lymdrenn Telvanni who said that the house is destroyed. Neloth also states that the Telvanni still have their holdings, which is also a contradiction to what Lymdrenn said about the house being destroyed. It seems likely that Lymdrenn merely assumed the House was finished due to his death in the initial invasion, and that due to their considerable magical and financial power the Telvanni were able to retain some measure of stability and control in their holdings.
- Main article: House Telvanni Quests
The Nerevarine can join House Telvanni and advance to the rank of Archmagister in the House.
- During the events of Skyrim, Brelyna Maryon, a student at the College of Winterhold, is a member of House Telvanni. It is unknown if Neloth is aware because of his House's dislike of non-Telvanni Magical organizations. It also contradicts Lymdrenn Tenvanni's Journal entry that says House Telvanni was completely destroyed during the Accession War.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online