- "Tarkin is not a reasonable man at the best of times."
- ―Finis Valorum
Ranulph Tarkin was a Human male from Eriadu who became an important political figure in the waning years of the Galactic Republic. Born into the wealthy Tarkin family, Ranulph spent his younger years further increasing the family's wealth and solidifying Eriadu's hegemony in the Seswenna sector and the broader Outer Rim Territories. He became determined that the Republic could not be secure without centralized armed forces and demanded the restoration of the Republic Military, forming his own fleet and army, the Republic Outland Regions Security Force, as a prototype for the new force. By 44 BBY, Tarkin was serving as the Senator for the Seswenna sector and was the leader of the Senate's Militarist faction, becoming the Senate's most vocal advocate for re-armament.
When Iaco Stark created a crisis by pirating the Trade Federation's shipments during a bacta shortage, Tarkin saw his opportunity to win the day. He pressured Trade Federation Minister Nute Gunray into giving up the location of a secret summit on Troiken in which Tarkin's political rival Senator Finis Valorum and a Jedi delegation would mediate between the Stark Commercial Combine and the Trade Federation. At Gunray's signal that all parties were assembled, Tarkin sent his full paramilitary force to Troiken, determined to stamp out Stark's pirates by force of arms and prove the value of a strong military once and for all.
The attack went awry when Stark anticipated that the senator would ambush him and infected Tarkin's fleet with a navigational computer virus. Tarkin was among the reduced fleet that made the jump to Troiken, where they were battered by Stark's navy. Tarkin had to abandon ship and seek shelter in the deserted mines of Mount Avos with the Jedi and Valorum. There he fell apart, dejected at his loss, and was inclined to give up. The Jedi and Tarkin's aide, Jace Dallin, took over leadership of Tarkin's army and held out against Stark's troops, building a burning resentment and shame inside Tarkin. Finally, as victory neared under Jedi Master Plo Koon, Tarkin took his fate back in his own hands and absconded with an explosive. Sacrificing himself, he released a swarm of carnivorous challat eaters from behind a cave-in, killing himself but taking Stark's troops, trapped by Koon's strategy, with him. In the aftermath, due to the political influence of the Tarkin family, Ranulph Tarkin's reputation remained strong and he was recalled as the "Hero of Troiken" for his part in Stark's defeat.
The rise of a Militarist
- "We see now the folly of not having a strong central Republic army and navy! The Jedi, good as they are, are not directly answerable to this chamber! How can we hope to negotiate successfully without military might? When will this chamber wake up and make the Republic Army and Navy official?!"
- ―Ranulph Tarkin, addressing the Galactic Senate
Born in 97 BBY, Ranulph Tarkin was a scion of the influential Tarkin family of Eriadu, which was the most powerful of Eriadu's Quintad ruling families and exercised significant influence over Seswenna sector politics. Tarkin served in the Seswenna Defense Forces, the sector's Planetary Security Force, and in 66 BBY, he led a successful campaign against the Delmaasi pirates. He later became an executive at Quintad Orbital Manufacturing, a Seswenna sector firm that produced military hardware, and during his tenure, Tarkin brokered a number of contracts with various military manufacturers from the Galactic Republic, to lease them space in some of QOM's shipyards and factories.
By 57 BBY, Tarkin was the most influential figure in the entire Seswenna sector. However, he became concerned by the gradual decline in law and order across the Republic due to rising levels of bribery and corruption. Tarkin determined to take action against the rising lawlessness and after handing control of QOM to one of his cousins, he convinced Ulm Brashere—Seswenna's representative in the Galactic Senate—to persuade the Republic's leader Supreme Chancellor Thoris Darus to appoint Tarkin as Seswenna's Governor-General. Tarkin's new position gave him command over the sector's military forces, and he set about enhancing the Seswenna Defense Force, building new warships in QOM's facilities. However, the construction effort attracted the attention of inspectors from the Republic's Judicial Forces, who shut down Tarkin's operation and searched the QOM shipyards for regulatory breaches. In frustration, Tarkin looked elsewhere to expand his forces and he struck a number of lend-lease deals with some shipwrights to whom QOM had close ties, which placed dozens of capital ships under Eriaduan command.
Subsequently, Tarkin negotiated a number of mutual defense agreements with neighboring sectors, to merge their Planetary Security Forces in times of need and to harmonize their military operations. He then entered further arrangements with more distant sectors, to exchange navigational data and to allow the safe passage of his military forces across their territories. Tarkin's combined force became known as the "Outland Regions Security Force" and developed in a regional military power. He viewed the armada as a prototype Republic Army and Republic Navy, convinced that if he could display military might in action, the Senate would realize the advantages of a proper military. Tarkin took personal command of the ORSF, styling himself as General Tarkin, wearing clothing in the cut of a military uniform and bearing rank badges, and taking the Republic light assault cruiser Invincible as his flagship. His aide, Jace Dallin of Rendili, also served as his military attache and second-in-command.
- "A monster of our own creation. The Trade Federation didn't become powerful by exploiting the Outer Rim. It was supported by Eriadu's own House Valorum, and supported by Tagge and others."
- ―Ranulph Tarkin, on the Trade Federation, whilst in attendance at a gala on Malastare
The Judicials were alarmed by Tarkin's militaristic ambitions and some suspected that he planned to break away from the Republic and form an empire of his own. Affronted by their mistrust, Tarkin determined to rebut the aspersions against his loyalty to the Republic by becoming the senator of the Seswenna sector in 54 BBY, and he was succeeded as Governor-General by his cousin Garvedon. Following his arrival on Coruscant, the Republic's capital world. Tarkin became a leading figure in the government of the Galactic Republic. He expressed his belief that the Planetary Security Forces were weak and would be unable to counter a serious military threat, and he became embroiled in a legal dispute with the Judicial Department. After attaining appointments to several important committees, Tarkin used his position to summon Judicial Department ministers before holocameras, to publicly challenge their opposition to his bellicose stance. He also claimed that he would be willing to turn the ORSF over to the Judicial Department, but only if the security force were to be part of a wider Republic military
Tarkin's aim of forging a strong Republic military found some support among other senators and Tarkin led the Militarist faction in the Galactic Senate, in which capacity he passionately argued for the revival of the Republic Military, counting the Judicial Forces and Jedi Order insufficient to protect the Republic. Instead, he held that the Republic had need of a well-armed and centralized army and navy in order to maintain true security. In this, he was opposed by a faction who thought that military might would only lead to war-mongering and abuse of power, instead preferring diplomatic solutions. Senator Finis Valorum was a frequent spokesman for this party, and served as Tarkin's leading rival in the Senate. Tarkin's designs also attracted support from some of the Senate's Reformist faction, who worked with him to make the Judicial Forces more effective.
In 54 BBY, Tarkin attended a gala that was held in the Eriaduan consulate on the planet Malastare, to congratulate the recent winners of the Vinta Harvest Classic podracing event. During the festivity, Tarkin discussed the state of affairs in the galaxy with fellow senators Pax Teem and Vidar Kim, the ambassador Bor Gracus, and the Black Sun vigo Boss Cabra. They debated the rise to power of the Trade Federation, an influential shipping concern, and Tarkin claimed that the Federation had grown strong only as a result of the support that it had received from the noble families House Valorum and the House of Tagge. He also mentioned a rumor that he had heard regarding a recent deal that the Muun businessman Hego Damask had brokered a deal between the Federation and the trade guilds of the Corporate Alliance and the Techno Union. The Eriaduan was introduced to the Naboo ambassador Palpatine, an aide to Vidar Kim, and the young Human made a great impression on Tarkin, who enjoyed hearing Palpatine's views on the Federation.
Seizing an opportunity
- "Excellent. We will destroy these pirate scum and the objections of ineffectual leaders like Valorum will be swept aside. The Republic will have a strong military…and a strong new leader."
- ―Ranulph Tarkin, to Nute Gunray
In 44 BBY, Tarkin saw a prime opportunity to put his forces to use. Pirate Iaco Stark, leader of the great fleet of renegades known as the Stark Commercial Combine, had been preying on the Trade Federation's shipping and selling the captured cargo cheaply on the Outer Rim. When the planet Thyferra was struck with a bacta shortage, Stark began pirating the precious healing fluid, leading the Trade Federation to threaten to cut off trade to the Rim entirely if the Senate did not allow them to increase their allotted defense complement. As he did with most issues, Tarkin took the opportunity to argue in the Senate yet again for the formation of an official army and navy, but Valorum rebutted him. Tarkin also threatened that if the Judicials could not resolve the situation by themselves, he would send in the Outland Regions Security Force to eliminate Stark's pirates.
Instead of a military solution, Valorum negotiated a secret summit between Stark and the Trade Federation at an undisclosed location, where the Senator and a Jedi delegation would be present as mediators. Tarkin was of the belief that force, not negotiation, was the best way to eliminate Stark as a threat. To that end, he spoke secretly with Minister Nute Gunray, a senior Trade Federation official who would represent the Trade Federation at the summit. Tarkin struck a deal with Gunray to lead Tarkin's forces to the summit, where he could kill Stark and destroy his gathered forces. The senator believed that such an attack would not only end the threat of the Stark Combine, but also convince the Senate to make his fleet and troops the official navy and army and vault him to the Supreme Chancellor's office as a hero. Gunray nearly backed out over worries that they would be too easily exposed, but knowing that the Trade Federation had conspired with Xucphra Corporation to manufacture the bacta shortage, Tarkin blackmailed Gunray into giving up the conference's location—Troiken.
Tarkin had Dallin ready his troops, and the Outland Regions Security Force was recast as the "Republic Navy" and "Republic Army" as a deliberate propaganda statement. Sympathetic elements within the Judicial Forces also lent Tarkin several battalions of special-missions assault troops, to provide the ORSF with a ground assault force for the duration of the operation. Commanding from his flagship Invincible, Tarkin eagerly awaited Gunray's signal that Stark was present at the conference site. Tarkin harbored some thoughts of simply bombarding the conference site when he arrived, eliminating not only Stark but also his rival Valorum and Gunray, who could implicate him in the scheme. He never got the chance to follow through on those ruminations, as when he had to fleet jump into hyperspace on receipt of Gunray's signal, the ships' navigation computers were scrambled. Stark had learned of Tarkin's fleet and used Gunray's own transmission to infect the ships' navicomputers with a Tionese program, a type of computer virus.
A real war
- "Might as well give Stark what he wants—he's going to get it anyway. We gave it our best shot and we…missed."
- ―Ranulph Tarkin
Tarkin's Invincible was one of only a handful of ships which made the jump correctly to Troiken; the others were scattered across the galaxy and many destroyed. Over Troiken, Tarkin found himself badly outnumbered by Stark's fleet. With only a third of his forces, Tarkin could not outfight Stark's flotilla, and the Invincible came under heavy attack. Horror-struck at this reversal from his glorious plans, Tarkin was indecisive on the bridge. Valorum contacted him from the surface, where he and the Jedi had escaped Stark's conference room ambush with Gunray in tow, and relayed instructions to have his fleet land on the Lycinder Plain at the foot of the Hormick Range. There, in the abandoned spice mines within Mount Avos, they would have a defensible position against the Stark Combine's soldiers. Tarkin instinctively recoiled against taking orders from Valorum, but with Invincible nearly destroyed he was forced to accept the plan. He had Dallin relay the evacuation orders which sent all personnel to escape pods. He then took a life-pod to the surface with Dallin, as his own shuttle had been destroyed.
Landing on the plain, Tarkin and Dallin struggled to the mountain under fire. Tarkin immediately regretted leaving Invincible for this battlefield, but he was harboring only illusions of security, as the flagship's plummeting wreckage showed. They reached the caves, where inadequate supplies made hopes of holding out more than a week slim. Dejected at the failure of his plan, Tarkin was inclined to simply surrender. In the caves, Jedi Master Plo Koon took over the leadership role from his Master Tyvokka, a Jedi Councilor who had died after sustaining injuries in the conference room. Councilor Adi Gallia and Master Qui-Gon Jinn were also present. Koon's telepathic powers allowed him to read Stark's mind from afar, and learn that a major ground assault was on the way. Tarkin's soldiers successfully defended Mount Avos under Jedi leadership, through a series of desperate engagements. Tarkin resented the fact that the Jedi had usurped his command role. Stuck as a spectator, Tarkin maintained that they should surrender, disbelieving that the Jedi would find success.
When the Jedi devised a plan to sneak Valorum and Gunray offworld to let the Senate know that they had survived and convince the Republic to send support, Koon offered to evacuate Tarkin as well. Tarkin was enraged, seeing this as an attempt to pack him off so that his command could be even more thoroughly stolen from him. He insisted on staying behind. Gallia was able to escape with the politicians, while Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi returned from the spaceport with Jedi Master Tholme and his apprentice Quinlan Vos in tow; they had arrived after fleeing Thyferra with evidence that the bacta shortage had been faked. When Vos and Kenobi disturbed a nest of challat eaters, the Jedi had to collapse a tunnel to trap the carnivorous insect swarms.
The Hero of Troiken
- "You stole my command from me. Stole the glory meant for me. Now I take it back. I will complete my mission and my name will be remembered by all as the man who destroyed the Stark Collective."
- ―Ranulph Tarkin, to Plo Koon
When word came that the Senate had decided against sending relief to Troiken, Tarkin was more convinced than ever that they could not win. Koon summoned the Jedi together in a plan, once more cutting Tarkin out of the leadership. Koon used his telepathy to convince Stark, whose coalition was crumbling, to defect and provide the patch for the navicomputer virus which had swept the Republic, which was broadcast to Coruscant. A Jedi starfighter force, transported by Trade Federation ships, jumped to Troiken and engaged the combine. Meanwhile, as Stark's forces charged into Mount Avos, the Republic forces fled out rear exits, which they planned to block behind them with explosive charges, trapping Stark's men. Though Koon's plan could lead to victory on its own, Tarkin saw his last chance to contribute to the war effort and be a hero. He stole the explosive charge for the final exit and proceeded into the tunnels. Koon attempted to reason with him telepathically, but Tarkin set off the charge to clear the cave-in which had blocked off the challat eaters, killing himself in the process. He received his final wish, becoming the man who utterly destroyed the Stark Combine, when the challat eaters consumed Stark's trapped soldiers.
The remnants of Stark's forces surrendered, and the Stark Hyperspace War was over; so too was Tarkin's fleet. His opponent, Valorum, was made a hero in the aftermath. Tarkin's own family struck a political bargain with him, supporting Valorum's election as Supreme Chancellor in 40 BBY in exchange for securing Tarkin's reputation as a war hero himself. Valorum's lauding of the deceased senator as the "Hero of Troiken," a pivotal figure and expert leader who played a vital role in winning the Stark Hyperspace War, and posthumous decoration of Tarkin increased support for Militarism in the Senate. His position as senator was eventually filled by a relative, Shayla Paige-Tarkin. Tarkin's dream of a Republic military was granted in 22 BBY with the Military Creation Act, a policy of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, a political patron of Ranulph Tarkin's younger cousin Wilhuff Tarkin.
Personality and traits
- "Damn you, Valorum! This is my command! Mine! I will decide where my troops go and when!"
- ―Ranulph Tarkin, to Finis Valorum
Ranulph Tarkin firmly believed in militarism, supporting the re-formation of the Republic armed forces. He was alarmed by the breakdown in order across the Rim Worlds and he became convinced that the Galactic Republic could only be secure with a strong military. He saw force as the answer to many problems, and felt that even negotiations could not be successful without the backing of powerful armed forces. Tarkin had ambitions of becoming Supreme Chancellor, and believed that if the Senate could be made to see the advantages of a strong military in a practical demonstration, he would be swept into a leadership role. It was for that reason that he formed his private prototype military force and deployed it against the Stark Combine at Troiken. Tarkin was also a Humanocentrist, preferring only Humans in his military.
A prideful man, Tarkin found it difficult to surrender command. He had great ambitions, and when they were dashed around him on Troiken, he found the situation intolerable. He was at first disposed to give up, surrendering to Stark. As the survivors held out, Tarkin was increasingly disturbed by the fact that he had been rendered irrelevant as the Jedi and Jace Dallin stepped up to lead. He resented the others, believing they could not truly succeed. As they continued holding out, Tarkin felt that they would be robbing him of credit for a mission that he had devised, the success of which should rightfully be attributed to him. Finally, driven to near madness by frustrated ambition, Tarkin sacrificed himself to unleash the challat eaters, making himself a martyr in hopes of destroying Stark's forces himself and regaining credit for victory, even if posthumous. It would be better than living to be made a fool by Valorum and his allies.
For all his militarism, Tarkin was not an effective commander in the field. He counted on simple might to see him through, feeling that he was guaranteed success. Though he styled himself a general, he froze when faced with adversity over Troiken and was reduced to parroting Dallin's orders and accepting Valorum's advice. Once on the ground, he was little better off, left a spectator as Dallin and Koon took over military command. Valorum simply considered him a "damned fool"—though his opinion was colored by political opposition.
Behind the scenes
- "I think we decided he was an uncle or something."
- ―John Ostrander, on Ranulph Tarkin's relationship to Wilhuff Tarkin
The character of Ranulph Tarkin was created by Dark Horse Comics writer John Ostrander for the comic arc Star Wars: Republic: The Stark Hyperspace War as one of the major figures involved in instigating the war. Artist Davidé Fabbri drew Tarkin, creating his visual appearance. Tarkin was conceived of as a relative of famous Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope villain Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, but Ostrander left the relationship vague, deciding Ranulph was likely Wilhuff's uncle. In The New Essential Chronology, Daniel Wallace canonized Ranulph Tarkin as Wilhuff's cousin.
Though not openly articulated, Tarkin's scenes in The Stark Hyperspace War carry some subtext that he plans a coup of sorts rather than a legitimate ascent to power. He speaks simply of becoming the Republic's leader after deploying his military might, and his dialogue suggests that he would like to kill Valorum and the other delegates as well as Stark, "wip[ing] several layers of scum from beneath my boots!" However, Tarkin is not openly and unambiguously established as a power-mad would-be dictator; his actions and words can also be interpreted as merely those of an ambitious and frustrated militarist.
- Darth Plagueis
- Darth Plagueis audiobook
- Star Wars (1998) 36 (First appearance) (In flashback(s))
- Star Wars (1998) 37 (In flashback(s))
- Star Wars (1998) 38 (In flashback(s))
- Star Wars (1998) 39 (In flashback(s))
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 56 (VAL1-2, Finis Valorum)
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide
- The New Essential Chronology
- Star Wars: The Comics Companion
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide: Special Edition
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Atlas
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 33
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide: Updated and Expanded
- The Essential Reader's Companion