- "Need I remind you that it is I who leads our people in the Senate!"
- ―Orn Free Taa, to political rival Cham Syndulla
Orn Free Taa was a corpulent male Rutian Twi'lek who served as the senator of Ryloth during the waning years of the Galactic Republic. As the leader of the Rim faction, he was among the most senior members of the Galactic Senate. Indeed, Taa's power within the Senate helped skyrocket both Mas Amedda and Palpatine to power. He also had a relationship with Jabba the Hutt.
- "Do you know why Valorum loves to attend the opera? Because it's the only place on Coruscant where an entire audience will applaud him."
- ―Orn Free Taa in 32 BBY
Born on the poor Outer Rim Territories planet Ryloth, the Twi'lek Orn Free worked as a tax collector before becoming a senator in the Galactic Republic, representing his homeworld. Taa used his position to indulge his whims to excess, growing obese and developing a notorious reputation for corruption, while his own people toiled in squalor. He readily paraded his two beautiful assistants, Pampy and Supi, around as badges of prestige. Following the election of Finis Valorum's as Supreme Chancellor in 40 BBY, Taa became one of his most vocal opponents in the Senate, as Ryloth had been repeatedly denied favored world status.
Taa owned a private balcony in the Coruscant opera, where his large frame filled the space of three seats and required a specifically modified chair. In 32 BBY, he attended a performance of The Brief Reign of Future Wraiths, accompanied in the balcony by A Lethan Twi'lek consort, along with a dozen guests including Senators Toonbuck Toora, Passel Argente, Edcel Bar Gane, and Palpatine, along with two of Palpatine's aides, Kinman Doriana and Sate Pestage. When Valorum arrived late to the opera and received a momentous applause, he bowed to the members of Taa's because, who returned the gesture. Taa commented in Galactic Basic Standard that the unpopular Valorum was only in attendance because no other audience would applaud him, prompting Toora and Argente to criticize the Chancellor's flaws openly. Taa questioned the purpose of Valorum's bow, which Toora believed was an early attempt to rally the support of the senators in the balcony to support Valorum's forthcoming taxation of Free Trade Zones. After Taa considered other more notable senators, such as Bail Antilles and Horox Ryyder, and Tendau Bendon, both senators quickly realized that Palpatine was the true intended recipient, as he had been convincing Valorum of the tax plan's necessity.
The senator's discussed Valorum's proposal, with Taa believing that the result would be determined by partisan contests between galactic regions, with the Core Wolds in favour and the near Colonies opposed. When Toora asked Palpatine to reveal details of his conversation with Valorum, she asked Taa to switch on the balcony's noise cancellation feature, though Palpatine did not speak until Pestage examined the device's security. The senator from Naboo justified the tax plan as necessary to limit the influence of the Trade Federation, which Taa interpreted as a view that the Federation's link with the Outer Rim Territories could not be alienated due to its benefits in trade between the Republic. Palpatine rejected Taa's interpretation, responding that the Trade Federation could eclipse influence in the Senate if not stopped. As Palpatine elaborated on his stance on the taxation plan further, Taa commented that he sounded like a future party whip, shortly before the operatic performance began.
Taa was the leader of the Rim faction of senators; as such, he advocated lessening the Republic's interference in local affairs. Taa was the senator who nominated both Mas Amedda for the position of Vice Chair and Palpatine for the position of Chancellor; both of which became successful in their positions.
Taa was a member of the Allocations and Appropriations Committees and was one of the first members of the Loyalist Committee. A Militarist in the Separatist Crisis, he was one of the biggest supporters of the Military Creation Act, which was counter to the Twi'lek's cultural disdain of violence. However, he approved of an attempt by Palpatine to negotiate with Count Dooku just prior to the outbreak of the Clone Wars.
When Senators Tikkes, Bufus Ritsomas, Danry Ledwellow, and Wuja Wojaine were caught and arrested for their involvement in a slavery ring from their sectors, Taa expressed his disgust in public. All convicted Senators were put under house arrest to await trial, but one week later, Tikkes escaped on his Quarren vessel, the Krakana Current. Furious and unsure whether to denounce this escape as part of a conspiracy or a result of incompetence on security's part, Taa denounced it as proof of Tikkes' guilt. Senator Edcel Bar Gane of Roona, on the other hand, thought that Taa was jumping to conclusions and viewed Tikkes' situation as a flight for his life after Senator Aks Moe's death. Taa's accusation would prove to be correct when Tikkes joined forces with Count Dooku and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. After Neimoidian senator Lott Dod ended up in a skyway accident, Taa, when appearing on the Amberdawn morning news broadcast focusing on the accident, joked on the air that Dod was probably planning to file a lawsuit against the Skyway Flyer company for alleged anti-Neimoidian sentiments, and planned to issue evidence of them interfering with Neimoidian markets. The next day, Taa ended up making a public apology for his remarks on the Amberdawn after Dod complained about the joke being tasteless.
Battle of Ryloth
- "The people have my promise that the clone army will leave once Ryloth is free of those droids!"
- ―Orn Free Taa
When the Senator's homeworld of Ryloth became the site of Separatist invasion, he was rightly worried about the welfare of his people. With the blockade in orbit and the onslaught on the surface, it seemed that the resistance would fail. The Jedi Council dispatched Senator Bail Prestor Organa to negotiate humanitarian aid from King Katuunko of Toydaria, in order to deliver supplies to Ryloth. Taa made a personal plea to the Toydarians via hologram regarding how his people are suffering. However, the Trade Federation representative Lott Dod made a counterargument that supporting Ryloth would end Toydaria's neutrality. Officially, Katuunko refused to get involved in the war, he nonetheless aided in delivering the supplies to Ryloth, right under Dod's nose.
After operations led by Jedi Generals Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi were successful in breaching the Separatist blockade and beginning a ground assault, Jedi Master Mace Windu briefed Taa and the Senate about what progress the clone army had made so far; namely, the securing of many villages and the entire southern hemisphere of Ryloth.
Windu believed that the Separatist occupation could only be defeated by capturing the capital city of Lessu, and that this could only be achieved with the help of Taa's political rival Cham Syndulla. Though both Taa and Syndulla were dubious over the possibility of an alliance between them, Windu managed to secure both of their aid through their mutual wish to save their people. Taa promised that once the battle was over and there were no more Separatist droids on this planet, the clone army would leave the system immediately, while Syndulla vowed not to make an attempt to seize power from Taa.
Part of the Council of Neutral Systems
Sometime during the Clone Wars, Senator Taa was asked by Duchess Satine Kryze of Mandalore to consider joining her Council of Neutral Systems. He accompanied the Duchess during her voyage to Coruscant to plea her case to the Galactic Senate. He was present during the incident aboard the Coronet, during which he bore witness to the horrid monstrosities deployed by the Death Watch and the Confederacy of Independent Systems in an attempt to murder the Duchess.
Senate hostage crisis
- "Look at Senator Orn Free Taa! He looks so unhappy!"
- ―Ziro the Hutt, to Orn Free Taa
When the notorious bounty hunter Cad Bane and his posse were able to successfully enter the Senate Building and capture a group of important Senators, it was Senator Orn Free Taa who alerted Chancellor Palpatine to the emergency. Taa remained with the Chancellor throughout the duration of the crisis and was privy to the Chancellor's refusal to bow to the bounty hunter's demand: the pardon of crime lord Ziro the Hutt.
However, when it became clear that Bane was in control of the Senate, Palpatine agreed to pardon the Hutt. Orn Free Taa was placed in charge of a pardon chip, which under his authority, would ensure the release of Ziro. After freeing Ziro, Taa organized a force of clone troopers to ensure the Chancellor's safety, as well as to prevent the escape of Bane. Unfortunately, Bane had rigged the room holding the hostage Senators with detonation devices, and as such, the Republic were forced to allow him his freedom.
Fortunately, when Bane detonated the devices despite the compliance of the Chancellor, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker foresaw Bane's treachery and was able to save the lives of the hostages.
Personality and traits
- "Few cultures have suffered as much from slavery as the Twi'leks, and to know that that kind of blood money has reached as far as the Senate sickens me. I say throw the leeches out of office, and then let them have a taste of the shackles themselves!"
- ―Orn Free Taa shows his ire for slavery and how it can corrupt the Senate
Taa served as a very vocal, leading member of the Loyalist Committee until the dissolution of the Galactic Republic in 19 BBY. Like Chom Frey Kaa, another obese Twi'lek, he differed from the normal Twi'lek in that he had four lekku instead of the normal two. His weight allowed him to develop an anterior set of fatty lekku from the thick brows common in male Twi'leks. In Twi'lek culture this may have been seen as a sign of power or virility. In addition, he had three fingers and a thumb instead of the normal four fingers and thumb of most other Twi'leks. He also had the sharpened teeth that were apparently common for Twi'lek males.
Although he genuinely cared about his homeworld and what was best for it, he was nevertheless one of the greediest and most corrupt senators in the Republic. Coming from the poor Outer Rim world of Ryloth, Orn Free Taa used his position of influence to satisfy his every whim while on Coruscant. As such he was quite decadent, flaunting his wealth and power with gaudy robes, beautiful Twi'lek consorts, and living in a lavish penthouse in the high skyscrapers of Coruscant. His given name meant "bird of prey" in Ryl.
He was rather obese and gluttonous as stated by Obi-Wan Kenobi himself. He had a legendary appetite and enjoyed food. He showed this when Satine Kryze was too worried to eat he said she must keep her strength up and continued to eat. Though this was a trait common among space-fairing Twi'leks, due in part to food being scarce on their homeworld, when they leave it and gain access to large amounts some often overindulge.
During the events of the Clone Wars however the more caring part of him was more visible as seen when faced with the events of the Invasion of Ryloth which resulted in the suffering of his people and the destruction, and therefore showing he is able to put his corrupt and self-indulgent nature aside when he strives desperately for the salvation of his people from the droid army. This is shown strongly during his pleas to the Toydarians for aid and his willingness to ally with his rival Cham Syndulla to free his people from Wat Tambor.
There were instances when Orn Free Taa had spoken his outrage at particular Senators for what he viewed – correctly for the most part – as injustices against the Republic and Ryloth, most notably when Senator Tikkes and other members' slave ring was uncovered. Unlike some Twi'leks, he did not support slavery or believe it necessary for the people of his planet.
Behind the scenes
Orn Free Taa is featured in all three episodes of the prequel trilogy. He was played by Jerome Blake in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. He is played by Matthew Rowan in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. In Revenge of the Sith, he has one line of dialogue, which was dubbed by Matthew Wood. He utters "Watch it." to Jar Jar Binks when the Senator seems to either be in his way, or bumps into him at the Republic Executive Building. Wood also provided the voice of General Grievous in the film, and also several Expanded Universe productions. Stock Footage of Rowan as Taa is seen in a full-motion cutscene of the video game Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he is played by voice-actor Phil LaMarr using a French accent. He is portrayed by David W. Collins in the HoloNet News — A Galaxy Divided segment.
Orn Free Taa's appearance in The Phantom Menace video game is only a brief cameo. When the player, controlling Qui-Gon Jinn, falls into Jabba Desilijic Tiure's beast pit, Orn Free Taa is seen standing next to Jabba.
- Star Wars: Episode I Insider's Guide
- "In the Star Wars Universe" – Star Wars Insider 48
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Coruscant Limited (Card: Orn Free Taa) (backup link)
- Young Jedi Collectible Card Game – The Jedi Council (Card: )
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- Galactic Power Brokers"—Star Wars Gamer 10 "
- "Who's Who in the Jedi Order" – Star Wars Insider 62
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary (First identified as Orn Free Taa)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars Annual 2009
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Complete Season One
- Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – "Shop" (Set: Orn Free Taa)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 47 (PAL9, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 106 (TWI33-36, Twi'leks - Orn Free Taa)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic UK 6.6
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: New Battlefronts: The Visual Guide
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
Notes and references
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 106
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Cloak of Deception
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Liberty on Ryloth"
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 208 ("Taa, Orn Free")
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Essential Reader's Companion
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Supply Lines"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: New Battlefronts: The Visual Guide
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Voyage of Temptation"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Hostage Crisis"
- Galactic Campaign Guide