Lit Wilhuff Tarkin’s aspirations towards the throne- Yay or Nay?

Discussion in 'Literature' started by GrandMoffTrachta, Jan 19, 2023.

  1. GrandMoffTrachta

    GrandMoffTrachta Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 11, 2022
    This post is an open discussion, not a what if, of whether or not:

    Tarkin had genuine desires for the throne
    If you believe this is in character with his 40 some years of Expanded history.

    Now, when watching ANH, there is virtually nothing to indicate this. All hints towards his ambitions are from the novelization, OOT character studies (a certain promo for The Star Wars in a magazine spells it out) and other sources.

    However, there are also plenty of sources that state that Wilhuff was zealously loyal not only to the throne, but to Palpatine himself.

    Perhaps the linchpin of this entire discussion lies on Motti’s repeated attempts to “persuade” Tarkin to use the DS-I as a bargaining chip to either depose Palpatine, or co-rule beside him (the novel Death Star instead points towards the idea of him being the official #2 beneath Palpatine, so maybe Grand Vizier? Supreme Moff?)

    Now, Tarkin’s response to Motti is really interesting, and I appreciate the restraint on the accounts of the author. Tarkin tells Motti that he will “give it some thought” after Yavin is destroyed. We, the reader, don’t really know if this was just him shutting Motti up, or if it was an earnest statement.

    Anywho, what’s your guys thoughts on this topic? Do you think ol’ slippers actually wanted the throne? And if he did, is this in character for him? Maybe he just went power-mad?
  2. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 30, 2012
    In the “unrevised” 4th draft script, Tarkin says to Vader, “This operation will secure my place on the Emperor’s council. With the right maneuvering, I could be Emperor.”
  3. QuinlanSolo

    QuinlanSolo Jedi Knight star 1

    Jun 17, 2019
    The NPR ANH radio drama also is pretty explicit that Tarkin had such ambitions - it's why he didn't evacuate the DSI.
  4. Alpha-Red

    Alpha-Red 10X Hangman Winner star 7 VIP - Game Winner

    Apr 25, 2004
    Yeah, I'd prefer a Tarkin that isn't scheming to become Emperor. Though I don't think it's because he's necessarily loyal to Palpatine himself, but rather because he shares his authoritarian agenda.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2023
  5. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 24, 2013
    It is undeniable that Tarkin is coy there. He sure has ambitions, but his ambitions are not treason as with others. He has a high place already and wishes to ascend higher to the top. He already is besties with Sheev and the Empire is based on foundational ideas and doctrines by him along that of Palpatine and others. But Tarkin knows quite well that he is not in Palpatines league. He is no Sith, he is no one who would openly challenge him to ascend in position.

    Tarkin is rather manipulative and creeps his way into power. Hence him keeping his options with Motti and cabal open while still remaining loyal and considering also to ascend in rank further by not betraying the Sith.

    Wasn't it in a Dark Horse comic already that rule fell to Tarkin should Palpatine be incapacitated or dead during an attempt on his life set pre-ANH?
    This means Tarkin is already second in command of the Empire total, above Vader even back then right before ANH. This may run counter to some ANH ideas of the Emperor keeping a court even above Tarkin and such friends in high places. What court or council did Tarkin wish to join thus if the Empire was already as good as his with merely the Emperor in the way, which if ignoring the Force aspect, old age may deal with soon enough baring he did not know of any cloning plans.
    Maybe Tarkin suspected or had learned about the Dark Empire, or even the Sith Eternal and the plan to subvert the mundane Empire Motti and others only knew about and thus Tarkin aspired not to rule an Empire that can be obsolete the moment the Sith switch to their backup plan, but wished to become part of the contingency and backup secret forces and a place on the Sith Emperor's Dark Council of the DE / Sith Eternal.

    Might Tarkin move on Palpatine if he knew that? No. Might he move on Palpatine to prevent that? Maybe but risky. Might he try to ursurp the throne or rather be in place to inherit it? You decide, I tend toward the latter.
  6. Sable_Hart

    Sable_Hart Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 28, 2009
    Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, yup.

    This is something canon has further emphasized at various points.

    Technically, Vader exists outside the chain of command until after ANH and Amedda has assumed Legends!Sate Pestage's role as Grand Vizier, head of the ruling council and head of government, but Tarkin seems to "outrank" them in terms of the Emperor's favor despite being a mere Grand Moff. Filoni outright says in a Rebels interview that Tarkin "outranks" Vader and this sentiment is further reinforced in various visual guides and comics.
  7. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 28, 2000
    Note that the Imperial court's power -- particularly the Imperial Ruling Council -- is delegated from the Emperor. Their power is the power to speak in the Emperor's name. Thus, we can both say that the Imperial Ruling Council outranks Tarkin but that Tarkin is answerable only to the Emperor. Both of these are true. Recall that in WEG, it was Ars Dangor who appointed Tarkin to grand moff.
  8. GrandMoffTrachta

    GrandMoffTrachta Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 11, 2022
    I don’t think Dangor himself appointed Tarkin, but instead told Tarkin that he is to become the (first) man to hold the office of Grand Moff.
    UltramassiveUbersue likes this.
  9. HMTE

    HMTE Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 7, 2021
    One of the things I always wondered about the Death Star, Tarkin, Palpatine and the thought process of these two men was whether or not Palpatine had any built in safe guards or not. In real life with WMD's like nuclear weapons there are supposed to be safeguards in place to prevent commanders from going rogue and launching without authorization. Now obviously the movies and books clearly show that Tarkin can fire the Death Star's superlaser whenever it is primed and ready. He doesn't need a "launch code" from Palpatine to use it. I imagine having the Death Star under his control would have made the idea of staging a coup and installing himself as Emperor very attractive to even the most loyal Imperials. After all, Motti claimed that the station was now the ultimate power in the universe. Even the most loyal fanatic might be tempted.

    But Palpatine is supposed to be this evil genius mastermind. Surely he'd be smart enough not to trust control of the Death Star to Tarkin without some sort of safety system in place to ensure that it could never be used against Palpatine.

    But what form could such a safety system take? An army of ISB moles stationed on the Death Star as normal technicians? A master command code that would deactivate the Death Star if Tarkin tried to use it to blow up Coruscant and the Emperor along with it? A big ol' self destruct button in the armrest of Palpatine's throne?

    When it comes to the debate of Tarkin's loyalty/ambition I'd say that he was a loyalist with an opportunistic streak. If a very real, tangible possibility to elevate himself to the throne came along and there was comparatively little risk, I think he'd stake his claim. With that said, he wouldn't be actively scheming to the extent of Demetrius Zaarin or Pitina Mar Mas Voor.
  10. Darth Dnej

    Darth Dnej Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 27, 2013
    As mentioned in the Death Star novel (Legends), Tarkin had no current intention to move against Palpatine using the Death Star.

    “As the commander of such a vessel, he would, perforce, be the most powerful man in the galaxy. The thought had certainly occurred to him that not even the Emperor could stand before him, did he choose to challenge Palpatine’s rule.

    Then again, Tarkin knew the Emperor. If their positions were reversed, he knew that there was no such possible way he would sanction anyone having such power - not without some kind of fail-safe. Was a destruct device already built into the station somewhere, with the red button safely installed in Palpatine’s chambers? Was some equivalent of Order 66 known only to certain onboard officers and troops? Or was it something more devious?

    Tarkin was certain that the Emperor had some kind of insurance against any theoretical rebellion. Not that the Grand Moff intended such a course; he wasn’t a foolish or suicidal man.”

    In the long term, I'm sure Tarkin did want to be Emperor. He was probably hoping for Palpatine to kick the bucket, or at least come up with a more subtle way to overthrow him.
  11. LAJ_FETT

    LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Lucasfilm Ltd Mod star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    May 25, 2002
    Along the same lines - when Palpatine had Vader rebuilt after Mustafar, was there a self-destruct mechanism somewhere in the suit in case Vader rebelled? I know we saw him toss Palpy down the reactor shaft in ROTJ, but if there was a self-destruct mechanism maybe Palpy couldn't get to it?
  12. Thrawn McEwok

    Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare star 6 VIP

    May 9, 2000
    In terms of the pre-reboot continuity, do I have a vague recollection of some obscure sidebar/shortform piece establishing that the destruction of Alderaan coincided with Palpatine's first transition to a clone body...?

    Tagging @Halagad_Ventor, because if anyone will know the answer, it's him!!

    - The Imperial Ewok
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  13. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Wacky Wednesday Host star 10 VIP - Game Host

    Sep 2, 2012
    Right after Alderaan, he kills Lemelisk and, it's implied, transfers his spirit to a clone body.

    If you subscribe to "Palpatine would never dare Essence Transfer without proof that it works, reliably", then it would make sense that Palpatine would wait til after Bevel has proved it works before doing it himself.
  14. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 28, 2000
    Please elaborate on the nature of the distinction you're drawing.
  15. GrandMoffTrachta

    GrandMoffTrachta Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 11, 2022
    Yularen was appointed (presumably by Sheev himself) to the DS-1 specifically to monitor the loyalty of its command staff.
    HMTE and darklordoftech like this.
  16. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 24, 2013
    What if Palpatine needed no safeguards because the Empire was built around him and nobody could rule it with him gone? It would fracture and if Tarkin knew that, not of the contingency but that only Palpatine can rule it, he would have it rather stand than risk it.

    As for Vaders suit, it had plenty of weaknesses various assassination attempts tried to take advantage of... just look what the Handmaidens, Aphra and others did to him via his suit recently alone. No need for a kill switch.

    Now for ANH...
    What if after dissolving the Senate, Palpatine did travel to Alderaan?
    Maybe he intended to board the DS1 there, or to deal with Bail Organa in person himself?
    Did Tarkin.. destroy Alderaan while he was on it like Oops. And that was his first essence transfer? But before he could punish Tarkin he was dead at Yavin IV? That would give a fun double meaning to the Rebel Superweapon of Alderaan that the Imperial Propaganda Buro tried to spin on the DS1 and Alderaan destruction news briefly before the truth took over the news.
    Vader letting Tarkin do it then would be bittersweet and another attempt to get rid of his Master.
    GrandMoffTrachta likes this.
  17. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Nov 15, 2004
    Didn’t we have a scene of Palpatine performing essence transfer in front of Vader that was rendered non-canon?
  18. GrandMoffTrachta

    GrandMoffTrachta Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 11, 2022
    You might thinking of his 0 ABY journey to Korriban that forced him into a bacta tank, with Jeng Droga “preparing” a clone for him.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
    darklordoftech likes this.
  19. Jedimarine

    Jedimarine Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 13, 2001
    Tarkin was a experienced and capable political actor.

    His ambitions were long term in vision and practical in effect.

    With control of the Outer-Rim, and direct operational control of the DS1, Tarkin had strategically placed himself as the most capable magistrate in the galaxy. Not an operator or agent...that is what people like Vader were. Tarkin was not a extension of the Emperor's power, but of "Imperial" Power. A subtle difference that separates minions from ministers.

    In a historical allegory...I would compare Tarkin to Godwin, Earl of Wessex from English antiquity. A master manipulator of circumstance. Able to fight when needs be, and toady up when that was called for. And no matter the circumstance, he, his family, his estates, would come out on top.

    If Tarkin had any ambitions toward the throne, I suspect it would be by way of descendants. I bet Tarkin was particularly curious about Palpatine's proclivities and potential successors. With Tarkin's skeptical/practical worldview, I doubt he believed Palpatine would be capable of living forever, being reincarnated...or at least...doing so and still holding onto power.

    I also think Tarkin was so instrumental to the "foundations" of the New Order, that he died before we got to see how he would operate in an "established" Empire. To him, the war was not over. You got the sense from ANH, with the completion DS1 and the dissolution of the Senate, that he could see the "Pax Imperialis" coming to be, and his attentions could divert elsewhere.


    Also, it can't be overstated the man's dedication to Eriadu. Whatever his other ambitions might be, ultimately, he steadfastly pledged wealth and power to his homeworld. I suspect if he ever became "Emperor" or survived to the warlord era, he would've made Eriadu a focal point of the galaxy.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2023
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  20. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 7

    Oct 13, 2003
    For those old 1977ish references... remember at once time, before TESB and ROTJ locked in all ideas on Emperor Palpatine, it was originally backstory that the current Emperor was only the most recent and had a least a few predecessors, and that the people around the Emperors often had more power than the Emperor himself.

    As for current thoughts on it, in the current continuity... I bet most high-ranking Imperial officers had such aspirations, while also being realistic enough, and the aura of fear around Palpatine to be terrifying enough, that few if any would ever make an attempt while Palpatine was alive. So I'd put Tarkin in that category. It would make sense he'd have some vague aspiration, and we saw in Rogue One what the inside politics games was at the top of the Empire. But it also makes sense he wasn't anywhere close to doing something like that, or that he was ever disloyal. Sometimes the most awful things done are done by true believers in the system, not the openly-narcissistic egomaniacs.
  21. Lord Sith Harloxzz

    Lord Sith Harloxzz Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 27, 2016
    I would have liked Ranulph Tarkin to be mentioned more in the EU i think he was Tarkin Uncle in Legends
  22. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 25, 2013
    Yeah, I think a lot depends on how much Tarkin knew about the real nature of the Emperor and his plans for the galaxy and for his own future (in NuCanon but also in the old expanded universe where all the Dark Empire clones show that he was also intending to live forever). If Tarkin still thought of the Empire as a more or less "normal" state, he probably would have thought he could just wait for the Emperor to kick the bucket and then he'd be able to position himself as his successor. If he actually knew that the Emperor meant to live forever, and could actually do it...? He might decide that his only choice of making it to the top was to overthrow the old goblin. On the other hand, it might also convince him that Palpatine was too powerful for him to hope to challenge, so he'd resign himself not to go any higher.
  23. GrandMoffTrachta

    GrandMoffTrachta Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 11, 2022
    This is basically my headcanon for Grand Moff Tracha's anti-Sith conspiracy. Trachta was one of the only non-force sensitives in the Emperor's real inner circle, and probably got freaked out by the Emperor's secret cult stuff.
  24. clonegeek

    clonegeek Jedi Padawan star 2

    Oct 28, 2022
    That sounds like a great foundation for a story

    Makes sense