In Warhammer 40k, the Tau Empire is lead by Ethereals.

The 5th Tau codex states ‘it is speculated that they (ethereals) exert some kind of pheromone based or latent psychic control over the other castes... the adeptus mechanicus and adeptus arbites are very interested in this aspect of tau culture.’

Has this control been elaborated on in any way in official canon? Any canon source such as codex, rules, white dwarf etc is acceptable.

  • 6
    There are tons of speculations but to my best knowledge, there is no definite answer.
    – Yasskier
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 2:07
  • 1
    That's classic 40k lore: they keep it blurry and mysterious so that players are free to imagine what they want. Is there something fishy about the Greater Good? Hopefully, if GW comes up with a good story, we'll learn more. We have been knowing nothing about the Legion of the Damned except "they appear in time of despair" for a long time for decades.
    – Taladris
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


It has not yet been released by GW on how they control the T'au. From the Warhammer Community Post:

Undocumented Methods of Control

Ethereals possess an absolute monopoly on the truth in the T’au Empire, allowing them to orchestrate grand campaigns of propaganda via their advanced communication technology. Good press is a powerful tool in their arsenal, but do they release the whole truth?

Imperial biologians have proposed several ways the Ethereals might exercise control, from the popular theories of veiled psychic domination to pheromonal manipulation. Some outliers have even proposed mass hypnosis or invisible organic nanites to control their subjects. Either way, the extent of their sway over the empire is mythical and utterly alien to the Imperium – who secretly wish they were even half as good at it.

Found while investigating another question. A statement from Gav Thorpe about the T'au:

The Shishell had psykers ruling over them, whereas the T’au most definitely do not.

From Gav Thorpe's websites entry on the Origins of the Tau

Specially interesting, since he created the Tau

Gavin Thorpe began developing what eventually became the Tau in the early 1990s.

From the Wikipedia article on the T'au Empire

So, we don't know what it is but we know what it isn't.

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