- "You're lacking anger and hatred! Sorely lacking! Become angrier!! Hate me!!"
- ―Darth Vader, to Tao
Tao was a Human male from the world of Shumari who trained as a Jedi Knight. He was part of a small group of Jedi that avoided Order 66 and the immediate decimation of the Jedi Order. Tao and his companions were eventually discovered by the Galactic Empire, however, and they were attacked by a taskforce led by Darth Vader, a Dark Lord of the Sith. Tao was the only Jedi to survive the assault, personally spared by Vader who took him on as an apprentice.
Vader trained Tao without the knowledge of his Master, Emperor Palpatine, using various methods to goad Tao into fully embracing the dark side of the Force. The apprentice was never fully subsumed in the dark side, and when Vader learned that his own son, Luke Skywalker, was alive, he abandoned Tao. Nevertheless, the Emperor discovered Tao's existence and forced Vader to mortally wound the young boy. Feeling some remorse for this action, Vader returned Tao to Shumari to die on his homeworld. There, Vader was attacked by a crazed Tusken Raider who almost overpowered the Dark Lord before Tao intervened with his final strength, saving his Master's life. Letting go of the anger that had been rooted in his heart, Tao died in the wastelands of his homeworld.
Battle of Shumari
- ―Tao's Master, upon being killed by Vader
Tao, a male Human, lived on the planet Shumari, located in the Parmel sector of Outer Rim Territories. He was part of a small Jedi community living there, during the years that the Galactic Empire ruled the galaxy. The Empire had outlawed all Jedi, hunting them down wherever they could be found. Despite this prohibition, Tao was trained by a bearded Jedi. As the Galactic Civil War progressed, the Empire discovered the Jedi presence on Shumari and launched a mission to subjugate the planet in response to both rebel and Jedi activity on the world. The Imperials ordered several Star Destroyers to orbit Shumari and subject it to a heavy orbital bombardment.
Meanwhile, the Jedi that were on the planet fought against stormtrooper legions who were operating under the command of Darth Vader, a member of the Order of the Sith Lords and a former Jedi Knight. Vader, however, was able to singlehandedly kill several of the defending Jedi, while several more were overrun by waves of stormtroopers. Both Tao and his Master directly faced Vader's onslaught. In the ensuing fight, Tao's Master was killed by Vader. Upon witnessing the death of his Master, Tao gave in to his anger and wished to continue fighting the Sith Lord. Vader, however, could feel the hate and anger that radiated off of Tao in the Force and decided to spare the young boy in order to take him on as his own secret apprentice. As Vader and Tao departed the planet, the Imperial fleet unleashed a massive bombardment which completely annihilated the planetary surface.
- "I have no more time for you, boy. You're on your own from now on."
- ―Darth Vader, to Tao
Following the devastation of Shumari, Vader attempted to train Tao in the ways of the dark side. Although Tao proved his skills, even being one of the few Imperial personnel to face off and defeat Noghri Death Commandos on Honoghr unarmed during training (the only others being his predecessor as Vader's Secret Apprentice, Galen Marek—codenamed Starkiller—and Ennix Devian), Vader was ultimately unable to get the boy to fully submit to his anger. Meanwhile, Vader was called away to deal with the Battle of Yavin which saw the destruction of the Death Star superweapon. Upon returning to Coruscant, the Dark Lord was faced with the wrath of his own Master, Emperor Palpatine, who was displeased that Vader was unable to stop the Death Star from being destroyed. At the conclusion of this meeting, Vader returned to his meditation chamber feeling angry and frustrated; there, Tao confronted the Sith Lord. Fuming at what had transpired in the Yavin system, Vader demanded that Tao attack him with all his anger in an attempt to strike him down. Tao, however, could not bring himself to totally give into rage, earning his Master's disapproval at lacking sufficient hatred to be a Sith. Attempting to push Tao over the edge, Vader reminded his young apprentice of all he had taken away from him—his homeworld, his Master, his friends, and his family. Despite Vader's goading, Tao could not understand why his master was demanding such anger from him. Vader's explanation, that only the strong deserved to live, led Tao to vow that he would become strong.
Soon after his training session with Tao, Vader learned the identity of the Rebel pilot who had destroyed the Death Star—his son, Luke Skywalker. Unsure of what to do with this information, Vader began to meditate on it, only to be approached by Tao once again. Though the boy informed Vader that he had been practicing and believed himself ready, Vader told his apprentice that he had no time for him, nor his weakness, and that he was free to go out into the galaxy. Feeling shocked and betrayed, Tao demanded to know why Vader had not simply let him die back on Shumari, but received no answer from his former Master.
Tao's freedom did not last long, as he was soon captured by Palpatine and taken by the Emperor's Royal Guards to confront Vader aboard the newly christened Executor, a Super Star Destroyer. Palpatine, displeased that Vader had betrayed him by hiding his young apprentice, demanded that Vader strike Tao down. Though Vader did not wish to do so, Palpatine took control of his limbs, forcing Vader to strike Tao across his chest with his lightsaber. The blow, however, did not kill the young boy. Instead, Tao was mortally wounded. Unsure of the innate reasoning by his unction, Vader took Tao back to his homeworld of Shumari and carried the dying boy to the site where he was born. Vader believed that Tao would hate him for what he had done. When Tao thanked him for allowing him to die on his homeworld, however, Vader was shocked. Before dropping out of consciousness, Tao informed Vader that there was still some good in him and pleaded that he not give in to the Emperor's hatred. As Tao lost consciousness, Vader felt remorse for the first time in many years.
- "You have good in you…I believe it…"
- ―Tao, to Darth Vader
Vader's moment of sadness was quickly interrupted, however, by a Tusken Raider wielding a modified gaderffii who had been hunting the Sith Lord ever since the destruction of his village on Tatooine. The Tusken quickly gained an advantage over Vader, destroying a part of his helmet and bringing him to his knees. Vader could sense the dark side personified in the Tusken's pure anger and hatred. It was then that the Tusken revealed that his gaderffii had been modified to house two lightsabers. Just as he was about to kill Vader, Tao gave his last ounce of strength to save his Master, using his lightsaber to kill the Tusken instantly. Moments later, Tao passed into the Force, but not before telling Vader to let go of his anger. Feeling incredible remorse for the young boy, Vader screamed out in anger and frustration at what he had allowed to transpire.
Before his departure from Shumari, Vader built a simple monument in honor of Tao, carving his name into a stone tablet which became the last man-made structure on the planet.
Personality and traits
- "You're lacking anger and hatred! Sorely lacking!"
- ―Darth Vader
Tao was an extremely ambitious and talented individual who held great potential within the Force. Following the murder of his Master, Tao was taken by Darth Vader, who attempted to turn the young boy to the dark side. Though Tao harbored great amounts of anger with regards to the destruction of his homeworld and the murders of those he loved, he was unable to fully yield to the dark side and satisfy the demands of Vader. Due to this, Vader disowned Tao as his apprentice and was later forced by Palpatine to mortally wound the young boy. Ultimately, however, Tao did not hold any anger towards Vader and saved his life on Shumari, exhorting him to let his hatred end.
Powers and abilities
During the Empire's invasion of his homeworld Shumari, Tao, along with his Jedi Master, was able to survive the initial attacks that killed the other defending Jedi. He was a competent lightsaber swordsman, and displayed sufficient raw Force power to attract the attention of Vader. Tao, however, was never able to fully utilize this potential for the dark side, disappointing his Master with his insufficient hatred.
Behind the scenes
Tao's first appearance was in the story Perfect Evil, which spanned issues Black and Silver of Star Wars Manga. The original publication of the work was labeled as Infinities, meaning the stories contained within the pages were regarded as not canonical. However, comments by Leland Chee in a forum thread on StarWars.com on the 6th of November 2006, described the continuity of these stories as "a bit fuzzy," indicating that the canonicity of the stories had not yet been established. In 2008, a combined edition of Black and Silver was printed in French. These editions were clearly labeled as Infinities, securing their status as non-canon tales. The planet Shumari has since been referenced in The Essential Atlas, which included the Shumari system in its appendix. However, according to Jason Fry, "its inclusion shouldn't be taken as a statement of canonicity for anything except the geography." Despite the manga's non-canonicity, Tao was eventually mentioned in Part 2 of the StarWars.com Blog "The Imperial Warlords: Despoilers of an Empire."
In 2006, Abel G. Peña planned to write an article tentatively entitled Vader's Legacy which would have revolved around the legacy of Darth Vader and include information on Tao. However, this article was eventually canceled by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Notes and references
- Perfect Evil
- The exact date of Perfect Evil is not established in the comic, however, Tao's death occurs between the launching of the probe droids that find the Rebel presence on Hoth and the subsequent Battle of Hoth. Probe droid launches have been established as early as 1 ABY in Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88, while the Battle of Hoth occurs in 3 ABY, per The Essential Atlas.
- The New Essential Chronology
- Back cover of the French print of the combined Black and Silver Manga comics. Note the Infinities label in the lower right corner.