- "Someone must have told them about my little maneuver at the Battle of Taanab."
- ―Lando Calrissian
The Battle of Taanab was an engagement in 0 ABY between the Norulac Freebooters—a pirate gang—and the Taanab defense fleet, led by Lando Calrissian. While a minor engagement by galactic standards, had a great effect on Calrissian's career: his impromptu command of the Taanab fleet and utter defeat of the Norulac Pirates earned him a heroic reputation that would later see him promoted to the rank of general in the Rebel Alliance.
- "There was no way the Taanabs should have let themselves be pushed around by such a sorry lot, but once you get used to being scared, you let a lot of things happen to you."
- ―Lando Calrissian
Taanab was an Inner Rim planet from which cargo was transported to resource-poor worlds through stardocks that were administered by the local Banthal Company. The Banthal docks suffered annual raids by the Norulac pirates, who ravaged Taanab every year without exception, typically stealing food and attacking vessels docked in orbit. They would also randomly select settlements where they would loot valuables and conduct acts of brutality. The Galactic Empire was too preoccupied to defend a small, insignificant farm world, and the pirates were careful not to take too much stock destined for Imperial use.
In the month of 35:8 GrS in the year 0 ABY, a roughly two-dozen-strong group of the pirates, including four Z-95 Headhunters, a badly-upgraded Action VI transport, a large number of painted gunships, and two corvettes, one of which was a decommissioned Marauder-class, were inbound for Taanab, intent on collecting their annual tribute. When word reached Taanab that the pirates had attacked an outgoing rhuum convoy on the system perimeter and were heading sunward, the small and obsolete orbital defense fleet scrambled to defend the Banthal docking array in near orbit, where the massive cargo ships favored by the pirates were docked. While the pirates were poorly equipped, they easily outmatched the Taanab Defence Fleet and its small, weak array of Z-95 Headhunters.
Lando Calrissian, a young merchant captain in seasonal residence in the Taanab system who was shipping a denta bean cargo to the planet, was confined to Taanab, as the pirates had attacked while his cargo was being unloaded. Calrissian, who had no knowledge of the pirates prior to his arrival on Taanab, passed the time by observing the situation and watched the pirates intercept the rhuum convoy via holovid in the spaceport bar in Pandath. Seeing the pirates as amateurs who could be defeated by a sufficiently skilled pilot and irritated by the refusal of the pilots present to intervene, he boasted that he could easily set the pirates back. Gathal Danager, a skeptical fellow free-trader, drunkenly offered Calrissian the deed to one of his breweries on Clendor if Calrissian could actually repel the pirates, prompting others to laugh at Calrissian, who would later recall being offered the Imperial Palace and the Sceptre of Nopachi as well. Amid much cheering and jeering, Calrissian lifted off in a freighter, the Mama Tried, which he had borrowed. Danager had made the bet under the belief that Calrissian wouldn't be able to do it.
- "The bet only seemed like a long-shot to those who didn't know I had an auxhold full of C-nets. As it happens, only I knew that."
- ―Lando Calrissian
Calrissian, who had been transporting several hundred Conner nets to Socorro for an acquaintance, quickly passed the orbital defense ships that were assembling around the docking array and hid in the ice ring that orbited Taanab's moon. After Calrissian waited there for some time, the raiders approached and began their run on the cargo ships at the docks. When the Norulac pirates were within range, Calrissian shot the Conner nets into the midst of their formation. The pirates were flying in a tight formation, and when combined with the speed of Calrissian's maneuver, their proximity resulted in them being caught by surprise. Roughly half of the pirates immediately hit their jets, flying directly into the nets and shorting out their systems, while three or four of the others collided with each other. At least six vessels were enveloped in the nets and forced into a single tangled mass.
The pirates slowed their snub ships to extricate themselves from the entangling webs of the nets, but before they could regroup, Calrissian activated the tractor beam of the Mama Tried and began to launch chunks of ice from the moon's ring into the pirates' cockpits, making multiple runs to the ring. The Taanab Defence Force eventually joined the battle; Calrissian rallied the Taanab pilots, and under his leadership, the orbit defense fleet then engaged in a mop-up session in which Calrissian alone destroyed nineteen of the remaining pirate craft in about as many minutes. Calrissian then crippled the pirates' two supporting corvettes by shattering the dorsal coolant pipes on their engine pods, taking their engines offline. He also secured the corvettes' escape pod bays with his remaining Conner nets, preventing the pirates from escaping, and Taanab contacted Imperial forces, who arrived a few days later and captured the pirate corvettes along with the entirety of their crews.
- "And if you're going to bring up Taanab again, don't. You've been squeezing that bit of history for favors for, oh, must be fifteen years now. Not going to do you any good this time."
The incident at Taanab, which was reported in the newsnets as the "Battle of Taanab," was considered to be among Lando Calrissian's most famous exploits. The Norulac pirates' collection of their annual tributes ceased following the battle, and the Taanabs offered Calrissian the position of marshal of their defense fleet. Calrissian refused, taking into consideration the salary of a planetary militaman, and politely declined an offer of employment from Taanab portmaster Daniil Captane, who praised Calrissian's maneuvers and his ability to command the Taanab pilots. Calrissian also accepted the brewery deed from Danager, though he intended to wait a few weeks to visit the facility, as he still had unspecified business to attend to locally.
Although Calrissian was a hero on Taanab, his fame failed to spread beyond the sector's borders until TriNebulon News picked up the story months later and broadcast it across the newsnets, publishing a report on the battle on 36:2:17 GrS. Their coverage of the events made Calrissian a minor celebrity in the Inner Rim for a few months. Shortly after Calrissian became the Baron Administrator of Cloud City, Ars Fivvle questioned Calrissian about the battle during an interview on an early installment of the news program Action Tidings, but Calrissian avoided providing any details and insisted that they move on to another subject.
Calrissian's role in the Battle of Taanab helped him obtain a general's commission in the armed forces of the Rebel Alliance, and Voren Na'al would eventually persuade Calrissian to provide a personal account of the battle, which he later included in his work Oral History of the New Republic. Calrissian frequently told people about his involvement in Tanaab as a means to get favors, which eventually culminated in Reggi banning that sort of tactic 15 years after the battle.
Behind the scenes
The Battle of Taanab was first alluded to in Return of the Jedi, when he explains to Han Solo that the reason for his promotion to General in the Rebel Fleet had to do with a maneuver he pulled during that time.
According to Tag Greenley in the non-canon comic Tag & Bink Are Dead 2, Tag fought the battle in Lando's stead in order to provide him an alibi and to cover his cheating on his sister, De-hoff Greenley. Tag was victorious and Lando used "his" victory to pick up women ever since.
There are conflicting sources on the size of the Norulac Freebooters' fleet. The Essential Guide to Warfare states that the Norulac pirates had two dozen ships. Star Wars Adventure Journal 5 appears to support this number as it mentions the Norulac pirates having lost nineteen ships in the battle. However, The Official Star Wars Fact File 96 claims that the Norulac pirates' forces consisted of six ships.
- "Galaxywide NewsNets" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 5
- Galaxy of Fear: The Nightmare Machine (Mentioned only)
- "Galaxywide NewsNets" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 14 (Mentioned only)
- Tag & Bink Are Dead (Non-canonical mention)
- The Return of Tag & Bink: Special Edition (Non-canonical mention)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi novel (First mentioned)
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (Mentioned only)
- Return of the Jedi 3 (Mentioned only)
- Specter of the Past (Mentioned only)
- Specter of the Past unabridged audiobook (Mentioned only)
- Vision of the Future (Mentioned only)
- Vision of the Future unabridged audiobook (Mentioned only)
- Young Jedi Knights: Jedi Under Siege (Mentioned only)
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe
- Galaxy Guide 5: Return of the Jedi (As "Battle of Tanaab")
- Star Wars: The Power of the Force (1995)
- Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook
- "Don't Leave Home Without It" – Star Wars Galaxy Collector 1
- "The Unseen Planets of Star Wars" – Star Wars Insider 36
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons
- Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary
- The Essential Chronology
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 96 (TAA1-2, The Battle of Taanab)
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Atlas
- Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook
- "Rogues Gallery: The Cloud City Wing Guards" – Star Wars Insider 148 (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook
Notes and references
- The New Essential Chronology, p. 115 establishes that the blockade lasted until six months after the Battle of Yavin, while The Essential Chronology, p. 42 and The New Essential Guide to Characters, p. 40 establish that the Battle of Taanab occurs five months after the Battle of Yavin.
- The Essential Chronology, p. 42 and The New Essential Guide to Characters, p. 40 establish that the Battle of Taanab occurs five months after the Battle of Yavin, which is dated to 35:3 GrS by The Essential Atlas, p. 173.
- "Galaxywide NewsNets" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 5, p. 268
- The Essential Guide to Warfare, p. 178
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 96 (TAA1-2, The Battle of Taanab)
- The Essential Guide to Warfare, p. 177
- "Galaxywide NewsNets" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 5, p. 269
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- The Essential Atlas, p. 104
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons, p. 171
- The Essential Chronology, p. 42
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi novelization
- Specter of the Past