- "I killed your father without pity or mercy."
- ―Riff Tamson's final words to Lee-Char
Riff Tamson was a Karkarodon male from the planet Karkaris. Tamson served as a commander and warlord for the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars and was placed in charge of operations on aquatic planets such as Mon Cala. When Count Dooku tasked Tamson to disrupt the fragile peace between the Mon Calamari and the Quarren, Tamson conspired with Quarren chieftain Nossor Ri to bring the Quarren into the war on the side of the Confederacy and the Quarren Isolation League. While on Mon Cala, he assassinated the Mon Calamari king, Yos Kolina.
Riff Tamson was a male Karkarodon who served as a commander and warlord in the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars against the Galactic Republic. During the war he was sent as a Separatist envoy and ambassador to the Republic world of Mon Cala, homeworld of the Mon Calamari and Quarren species. Tamson was commanded by the Sith Lord Count Dooku to destabilize Quarren-Mon Calamari relations and drive them to war. He began conspiring with the Quarren Senator Nossor Ri, who believed that joining the Confederacy was the best thing for his people. The commander then murdered King Yos Kolina, the Mon Calamari ruler of Mon Cala, further dividing the Mon Calamari and the Quarren, as the latter refused to recognize the rule of Kolina's son Prince Lee-Char.
Republic Senator Padmé Amidala and her Jedi bodyguard Anakin Skywalker were then brought in by a request from the Mon Calamari to help resolve the situation, and both they and Tamson attended a debate on Lee-Char's upcoming coronation. When the prince tried to speak up at the debate and promise to serve the Quarrens' interests just as much as his own peoples' desires, Tamson silenced him but was rebuked by Captain Gial Ackbar, who claimed the Separatist had no say in the proceedings. Ackbar made to assault Tamson when he retorted, but was held back by Skywalker. Amidala then tried to intervene as Ri spoke out against Lee-Char, but she was booed by the Quarren present, who believed the Republic had no place in the proceedings. After Ri formally announced that his people would not recognize the coronation, Tamson claimed the Quarren had no further business at the debate, prompting them all to leave.
Attack on Mon Cala
Having successfully created enough of a divide between Mon Cala's two native species to spar a civil war between them, Tamson was sent Separatist reinforcements including Trident-class assault ships and aqua droids. As the army gathered Quarren headquarters, the commander reported in to Dooku, who promised Tamson control of Mon Cala once the Separatists captured it. The combined Quarren and Separatist forces then attacked Mon Cala city under the command of Tamson, who led the charge and personally took down a number of the enemy with his teeth and claws.
Mid-way through the battle, Republic reinforcements arrived on the ocean's surface, sending clone SCUBA troopers to quickly descend and join the battle. Prince Lee-Char himself also joined the fighting to prove his leadership skills to his subjects, and Tamson wasted no time in targeting the young Mon Calamari. His attacks were blocked by the Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano, who had arrived with the Republic reinforcements, and quickly whisked Lee-Char away on a OMS Devilfish sub. The Karkarodon chased the pair into one of the city's transportation tubes and began headbutting the structure in an attempt to get in. As he successfully broke through, several Mon Calamari guards attacked him, giving the prince a chance to escape.
Despite having the numbers to overwhelm their foe, Tamson's forces then withdrew, with the Quarren returning to their ships while the Karkarodon and his droids hid in nearby coral. There, Tamson met with Ri and introduced him to the Separatist's secret weapon, the half machine-half monster Hydroid Medusas. The Medusas were then sent in as the first wave of a second assault, with the rest of the Separatist forces close behind, although the Quarren did not participate. Unable to destroy the Medusas, the Republic quickly retreated into caves under Mon Calamari City, leaving the Separatists to secure the area. As the Quarren finally caught up, Tamson confronted Ri over their absence, grabbing him by the tentacles and threatening to kill him if he disobeyed Count Dooku's orders again.
With the initial battle won, Dooku contacted Tamson and Ri via hologram for a status update and demanded they capture Lee-Char so that he could not become a rallying symbol for his people. He also ordered that all prisoners, including women and children, be processed and sent to internment camps below the city to work, and revealed he was sending Tamson reinforcements that should be kept in reserve until the Republic launched a counterattack. Shortly after the conversation, Tamson was alerted to an attempt being made by the Republic survivors to escape with the prince on board their Republic frigate above the ocean's surface. Tamson allowed his foe to get within viewing distance of the frigate before destroying it and deploying aqua droids to ambush the Republic forces. The prince, Jedi and senators managed to escape again amidst the debris, but were left with no way offworld.
The Republic soon struck back, taking out the Separatists' sonar and radar scanners, much to Tamson's chagrin. After learning the scanners could not be repaired, he ordered all his troops to prepare for an attack, assuming that Republic reinforcements would arrive while his forces were blind. He then took a small contingent of aqua droids and Trident-class assault ships to personally hunt down Lee-Char and the Jedi himself. Tamson's prediction soon proved to be true, as the Gungan Grand Army from the planet Naboo soon arrived to provide support to their Mon Calamari allies. Ri contacted Tamson via hologram to warn him of the attack and demand a retreat, but Tamson refused and committed the reinforcements sent by Dooku to prevent the Republic from rescuing the Separatist's Mon Calamari prisoners.
Tamson then used his assault craft to create a vortex around the Gungan and Mon Calamari forces and disorienting them. Amidst the confusion, the commander left his vessel and attacked Lee-Char, who was trapped in the center of the vortex. Tano was once again able to save Lee-Char from Tamson, who then sent in his aqua droids to distract the Jedi and circled round to attack the prince again. This time Fisto stopped Tamson, but the Karkarodon managed to disarm him and too began brawling hand to hand. Tano used the fight as an opportunity to escape with Lee-Char, but Fisto was forced to surrender and was taken prisoner, while elsewhere Amidala, Skywalker and Ackbar were captured, along with Senator Meena Tills, the Gungan leader Jar Jar Binks and the remaining Republic forces.
With Lee-Char still at large, Dooku was still not satisfied and ordered Tamson to use any means necessary to draw him out of hiding. The commander forced Skywalker and Fisto in cages constructed of electrical Mon Calamari eels and then tortured them for Lee-Char's location. The Jedi refused to reveal anything however, and Tamson was forced to report his failure to Dooku, while also telling the Sith that his squad of several Karkarodon enforcers had arrived on Mon Cala to aid in holding the planet. Returning to his prisoners, he attacked Amidala and bit down upon her helmet, creating a crack that slowly let water into her diving suit.
Ruler of Mon Cala
Hoping that the threat of the senator slowly drowning would convince Skywalker to talk, Tamson waited with the prisoners until he received word that Lee-Char had been captured while meeting with prisoners at an internment camp. Upon his capture, the prince had made demands to meet with the Separatist leadership and Tamson happily obliged, arranging to talk with Lee-Char in the throne room of the royal palace. As he left the prisoners he revealed to Ri that he wanted the prince to see him in his rightful place as ruler of Mon Cala, outraging the Quarren, who had made an agreement with Dooku that a member of his species would be the new king. Leaving Amidala to drown, Tamson and Ri then left for the throne room.
In the throne room, Tamson congratulated the prince on avoiding capture for so long and then revealed himself as the new ruler of Mon Cala. When Lee-Char tried to subtly appeal to Ri for aid from the Quarrens, Tamson immediately saw what the Mon Calamari was attempting but found it unbelievable that the Quarren would sacrifice their place of power to side with prisoners and slaves. He allowed the prince to make a full plea to the Quarren and even offered Ri the chance to change sides if he wanted to, laughing when Ri shied away as expected. The Karkarodon then informed the prince that he was to be publicly executed and had the Mon Calamari returned to his cell.
At Lee-Char's execution, Tamson gave the order himself for his Karkarodon soldiers to execute the prince, but was shocked when Ri dived in to rescue the Mon Calamari, whose plea had successfully convinced him to abandon the Separatists. The other Quarren present quickly freed and armed the various prisoners present for the execution and the event quickly turned into a desperate battle that soon spread across the entirety of Mon Calamari City. Tamson ordered more aqua droids to join the fray, but the combined forces of the Gungans, clones, Quarren, Mon Calamari and Jedi outnumbered the Separatists and slowly overwhelmed them.
Tamson himself then attacked and killed several enemy combatants with explosive knives, before confronting Lee-Char and attacking him. During the fight he revealed that he had killed the previous king, after which the prince managed to hurl one of Tamson's own knives into the Karkarodon's shoulder. Enraged, Tamson charged at Lee-Char, but the Mon Calamari was able to shoot the explosive knife lodged in his foe's shoulder, detonating it and blowing Tamson to pieces. With Tamson dead, the remaining Separatist forces were soon destroyed and Lee-Char was installed as king of both the Quarren and Mon Calamari people.
Personality and traits
- "What took your squids so long?"
"I didn't think you and your Separatist droids would need backup. Your reputation is a little exaggerated."
"Exaggeration is a weapon of war. It's what helped deliver the enemy into your hands."
- ―Tamson and Ri argue during the Battle of Mon Cala
Like General Grievous, Tamson was a brutal fighter who was willing to fight face-to-face with enemies if needed. Tamson had a reputation as being an excellent warrior, and was able to hold his own in combat against Jedi Master Kit Fisto. He also predicted a Republic attack when his scanners were taken out, despite there having been no other indication of one. Ri claimed that the Karkarodon's reputation was exaggerated, but Tamson claimed that such exaggeration was an important tactic in war. He was entirely loyal to Dooku and berated Ri for not following his orders during the early stages of the battle. Despite seeing no point in hunting down Lee-Char, Tamson devoted a portion of his forces to finding the prince after victory due to Dooku's insistence. He also spent time torturing his Jedi prisoners for information on the Mon Calamari, but admitted he would have tortured them anyway merely for his own enjoyment.
Tamson believed that Lee-Char was a cowardly child and did not see him as a risk; however, when Dooku ordered the prince's elimination Tamson followed the order and focused his efforts on the Mon Calamari. He was surprised when he managed to capture two Jedi, two senators and Binks more easily than the prince himself, and suspected their capture must be part of some plan. He was impressed by Skywalker and Fisto's tolerance of pain when he tortured them, and admitted as much to Dooku. He also came to respect Lee-Char based on the prince's success in avoiding capture, and realizing that Dooku was right in fearing that he might become a symbol of hope ordered his execution.
During the Battle of Mon Cala, Tamson generally used his fists and teeth to attack opponents, but during the final phase of the battle he killed foes with explosives knives, which in the end also proved to be his undoing. Tamson also had temperature, pressure, oxygen, and salt level monitors on his suit.
Behind the scenes
Riff Tamson first appeared in each episode of a three part arc that started the fourth season of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series in 2011. The first episode he appeared in was "Water War," followed by "Gungan Attack," and finally "Prisoners" in which he was killed. In all three episodes he was voiced by Gary Anthony Williams. Tamson's death was a homage to the 1975 film "Jaws," in which the titular shark is killed when Chief Martin Brody shoots an air tank lodged in the creature's jaws. When designing the model for Tamson, the Clone Wars animation crew made sure to rig his feet so that they could bend in order to suggest that his species could walk on land and survive out of water.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Water War" (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Gungan Attack"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Prisoners"
- Ultimate Star Wars
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 25 (Databank A-Z: Hydroid Medusas–Imperial Academies)
- Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 36 (Databank A-Z: Cut Lawquane–Lothal)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 47 (Databank A-Z: Max Rebo–Sabacc)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 52 (Databank A-Z: Hera Syndulla–Ahsoka Tano)
- Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles
- Star Wars: Alien Archive
- Rise of the Separatists
- Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Character Encyclopedia - Join the Battle!
- "Anakin Skywalker" – Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: Battles that Changed the Galaxy