We are the forebearers of this land. Everything you see about you, everything that came before you, owes some part of its existence to the Tallonai.
Onar Marmouf, Tumian High Council member, 813 AoE
alllonai are a casterway ethnic group. All but the Inqoans acknowledge the Tallonai as the first ethnic group to establish any kind of society on Excilior. The name Tallonai originates from the planet Tallon, a place that has only been seen or visited by one person in all of Excilior's history. However, that "one person" was Cervia Polonosa. She is recognized in the annals of all cognoscenti archives as the mother - figuratively and literally - of every casterway who has ever lived on Excilior since. They can also claim direct parentage of the Elladoran, Diasoporan, and Lumidari cultures. And it was a Tallonai woman - Cervia's daughter Sorealia - who served a similar "first mother" role for the culture that eventually established itself on the Sontsu Peninsula.
Although the motley nature of the casterway gene pool ensures that there is no immutable definition of Tallonai traits, they are generally assumed to be of olive-to-dark skin. The "classic" Tallonai look includes full lips, broad noses, "large" or "wide" eyes that are usually brown or deep green, and prominent cheekbones. Their hair is almost always brown or black, and it is never "just" straight. Some may have tight, kinky curls. Others may have longer waves. But no one of "full" or "original" Tallonai heritage has completely straight hair. They are, on average, a bit shorter than most other ethnicities, but not to the extent that they are seen as exceptionally short by any stretch.
Lyseia, Rochan, Soli, Ahlea, Mindeneja
Fialeo, Freres, Norleigh, Paveau, Beres
Poni, Valles, Ermeau, Arbonn, Charmonn
Polonosa, Raffeto, Bizzantro, Cetroni, Antejo
Major language groups and dialects
allonari is the native tongue of the Tallonai. Just as the Tallonai are the first true casterway civilization, Tallonari is the first "official" language of any casterway society. The language originated from Cervia Polonosa herself and it has grown from whatever original version of Tallonari that she learned and spoke on her homeworld of Tallon. Of course, nearly four thousand years have passed since she crashed into the Sister Seia, and modern cognoscenti have little doubt that the Tallonari spoken by casterways today would be unrecognizable to any current residents of Tallon. For that matter, it's doubtful that Tallonari speakers during Cervia's time in Auld Cervia would be able to understand any modern speakers - or vice versa.
When the Tallonai were first established on Excilior by Cervia, it's doubtful that anyone else on the planet spoke Tallonari. In nearly four millennia of excilation, there has never been a recorded instance of anyone arriving via dropship who already spoke Tallonari. Cervia recognized this fact and used it to her advantage. She required anyone who wanted to be part of her proto-colony to conduct any official business in Tallonari and to speak it whenever possible. She didn't do this out of some selfish devotion to her native tongue. She did it because she realized that it gave her settlement - and thus, her troops - a clear tactical advantage when they had to defend their city against the aggression of other desperate casterways who only wanted to loot and pillage what the Tallonai had managed to build for themselves.
Tallonari is also the native language of the Elladoran peoples. Modern cognoscenti have started to debate whether Elladoran Tallonari is truly the same language as that which is spoken by the Tallonai, because the two cultures have branched sufficiently that there are many differences in diction and accents. Nevertheless, Elladorans still refer to their own language as "Tallonari" and when Tallonai and Elladorans meet, they can typically converse amongst themselves with only the occasional awkwardness or misunderstanding.
Culture and cultural heritage
There is no grain of sand on the beach, nor any single leaf of the canopeia, for which the Tallonai have not tried to take credit.
Karpo Khamchan, Rinenmaan cognoscenti, 2517 AoR
ssessments of Tallonai cultural heritage vary wildly, depending upon whether the observers are Tallonai themselves. No one would deny that the Tallonai are one of the oldest cultures on Excilior. (In fact, everyone other than the Inqoans would concede that the Tallonai were the first culture on the planet.) But that cultural primacy also fosters great dissension amongst anyone who studies overall cultural contributions across many different ethnic groups.
The Tallonai themselves, being perfectly aware of their own role in history, understably characterize their contributions as epic and central to all that has happened, in every single casterway culture, since the initial founding of Auld Cervia nearly four thousand years ago. While it would be overly simplistic (and unfair) to ascribe this attitude to all Tallonai, a common Tallonai viewpoint is that casterway traditions are (in all forms), originated with the Tallonai. Therefore, all Tallonai art is the "classical" representation of the endeavor. But these ethnocentric ideals don't end with art. Many Tallonai are absolutely convinced about the superiority of their governmental structures, their legal systems, their academic endeavors, etc. The thinking nearly always goes that, "They started this. They established the protocol. And ultimately, they represent the ultimate ideal."
Unsurprisingly, many non-Tallonai sees things somewhat differently. While few would deny that the Tallonai, at one point, represented nearly all culture, that time is now long past. By some measures, it's not unreasonable to claim that the entire Tallonai culture has been in a long, slow, gradual state of decline nearly since the splintering of Auld Cervia, almost 3,500 years ago. So from that perspective, any automatic assumption of Tallonai superiority - in anything - has been quaint and outdated for more than three millennia. And while it would be inaccurate and myopic to paint Tallonai culture as being "static", even the Tallonai themselves would concede that many new buildings today are consciously architected to look very similar to what they would have been in the Age of Cervia. Many modern Tallonai artists still strive to conform to styles and standards that were established before 500 PE. Numerous political processes and legal codes are suspiciously similar to accounts that cognoscenti have from thousands of years past. So with these criteria in mind, it's not uncommon for non-Tallonai to look at the culture as fading, dying, or simply anachronistic.
Perhaps the most visual example of Tallonai decline comes in mapping their acknowledged lands over time. At the end of the Age of Cervia, the entirety of Islemanoton was controlled by the single nation of Auld Cervia that was undeniably Tallonai in nature. The fledgling nations and city-states of western Islegantuan were also clearly comprised of peoples who identified as Tallonai. The only known culture on the planet at the time that did not see themselves as Tallonai were the embryonic societies of the Sontsu in southeastern Isleprimoton. But cultural dominance has shifted in the ensuing millennia. Most of the early Tallonai cultures of Islegantuan evolved to a point where they have not identified themselves as such for thousands of years. While the Elladorans are acknowledged as the direct lineage of the Tallonai people, the only region of Islegantuan that still sees themselves as Tallonai are those peoples on the extreme southwestern edge of the Watcher Peninsula.
Even on Islemanoton - the commonly-understood "homeland" of the Tallonai people, their influence has been shrinking. Whereas they used to dominate the entire continent, and all of the landmass's inhabitants still call themselves "Tallonai", the region north of Brokeneck - the Hinterlands - has been evolving as its own culture for thousands of years. Long periods have passed with little-or-no cultural exchange between the Hinterlands and their Tallonai ancestors to the south. For this reason, many cognoscenti now limit the recognized domain of the "true" or "traditional" Tallonai to that of southern Islemanoton. Specifically, all regions of the Yernwold are explicitly categorized as "Tallonai" and this great forest is widely identified as the cultural epicenter of the ancient ethnic group.
Shared customary codes and values
I would say that they are a dying culture, but even a corpse changes over time.
Trayjon Noxon, Kalan smuggler, 2402 AoR
allonai are often characterized as being overly beholden to tradition and old-fashioned "conservative" views. While this stereotype is overly-broad and somewhat unfair to the majority of the group, it's not inaccurate to claim that the average Tallonai is more likely to hew toward so-called "traditional values" than comparable people of other ethnicities. But these old-fashioned "values" tend to be more about aesthetics and semantic details (fashion, artistic ideals, etc.) than they are about social matters (justice, equality, etc.).
Art & Architecture
rbyr construction, and the general practice of living in the trees, is widely acknowledged as a tradition that began with the Tallonai. Cervia Polonosa was the first to advocate the practice. She saw it as both practical (because the Yernwold is dominated by epic canopeias) and tactical (because the adversaries of the early Auld Cervians were all ground-based and had no intrinsic knowledge of how to scale - or attack - settlements perched in the arbyrs). With this in mind, the Tallonai are renowned for the regal extent to which they have extended this architectural form. While there are many other cultures that live amongst the arbyrs, there are none that have rivaled Tallonai prowess in the form.
With regard to more traditional art forms, the Tallonai are most closely associated with music that is centered on ancient woodwind instruments accompanied by intricate cantatas. This style of music is commonly referred to amongst all casterway cultures as "classical", even though there are other styles that rival the Tallonai in age and sophistication. Many travelers have remarked upon the ethereal quality of trekking through the Yernwold and hearing the resonant tones of Tallonai music wafting over the forest from locations far far above in the treetops.
ervia Polonosa is the most significant historical figure in Tallonai history - and it's not even close. As the first great civilization on Excilior, the Tallonai can certainly boast a rich tradition of historical luminaries, but Cervia's pivotal role in the dawn of civilization means that everyone else - literally, everyone else - owes credence to Cervia for pulling the first savage casterways out of their hopeless existences and establishing a full-fledged culture where previously there was nothing but a handful of wanton barbarians killing each other and waiting to die on a feral planet.
Their women prance about like they own the place. Quite frankly, it's embarrassing.
Baidir Sontjen, Torholmaan constable, 1588 AoE
wing to the outsized influence of the First Mother herself, the Tallonai are, and have always been, a strongly matriarchal society. While most Tallonai would claim that they respect all genders and that men are invaluable members of their society, the empirical fact is that women control nearly all key levers of power. Even in those cases where men hold sway, it's usually because women have specifically granted them that power. This tradition has subsequently been passed on to the Elladorans and the Diasporans, whose societies are every bit as matriarchal as the Tallonai. Even the Inqoans, who internally claim that their lineage is completely separate from the Tallonai (and from casterways as a whole), have their own entrenched traditions of matriarchy.
This does not mean that men are powerless in Tallonai societies. But any "power" they hold is typically gathered by working within the confines of the overlying power structure - that is almost entirely controlled by women. In most Tallonai countries, there has never been a male ruler. Tallonai cognoscenti are either all-female, or dominated by female members. This may seem incredulous, because the Plague of Men consistently ensures that the overall population is almost always seven-tenths male. But this usually plays out with nearly all of the plebeian and mid-level positions in an organization being held by men. And all, or nearly all, of the high-level positions being held by women.
East vs West
This culture of female empowerment represents one of the key differences (and one of the continual cultural flashpoints) between the east (Islemanoton and Islegantuan) and the west (Isleprimoton). Most of the nations of Isleprimoton exercise gender rights that are exactly opposite from the east. This has fostered and exacerbated many global conflicts throughout history.