Tareks are big, musclebound, and hairless bipeds that inhabit the hilly and mountainous areas of Athas. They have square, big-boned heads with sloping foreheads and massive brow ridges. Their flat noses have flared nostrils, and their domed muzzles are full of sharp teeth. Their powerful arms are so long that their knuckles drag along the ground. Tareks have a distinct musky odor that can be detected from as far away as 15’.
Tareks move with jerky, awkward strides except when engaged in combat. Then they exhibit a style and grace usually uncommon in creatures of their size and build. To watch them engage in combat is to watch fluid motions that are as artistic as dance – unless the viewer happens to be on the receiving end of the deadly spectacle.
Tareks are violent and aggressive. They place great value and honor in physical prowess.
While tareks will use weapons, they shun armor of any sort. Instead, they rely on their own tough hides and natural combat agility to protect them.
In the gladiator pits, they are often set up as mated pairs, giving them an advantage over other gladiator teams. In rare intstances, as many as six tareks are teamed against one huge opponent for special contests. The crowds love to watch tarek teams tear into a braxat or other terror from the wastes. Such contests are so popular in Nibenay that a select group of templars are assigned to keep the arena stocked with both tareks and monsters to pit them against for the monthly Festival of Ral.
Due to their great strength and remarkable constitutions, tareks have the ability to battle beyond the point where other creatures would succumb to wounds and other injuries. Even when dealt a fatal blow, tareks continue to fight after death.
Tareks gather in tribes, building small communities in the hills and mountains of the Tyr region. These communities often sustain themselves by raiding, and visitors are not welcome. Unless a group of visitors include an obvious elemental cleric, tarek warriors rush out to kill or drive the intruders away In rare instances, members of a community will be sent out to trade with merchant caravans, but few traders will blindly conduct business with these representatives. More often than not, such representatives are decoys for an unseen raiding party. More than one caravan has been taken by surprise while negotiating a deal with tarek traders.
Tareks hate wizardly magic in all its forms. They go out of their way to destroy defilers, and they’ll even chase away preservers who use their magic in the vicinity of a tarek community. This hatred of magic translates into a strong dislike for elves, since elves often deal in the business of spell components and have an innate love for all thing magical. Tarek raiders often attack elf tribes that wander too close to their territory as an automatic response to the probable proximity of wizardly magic.
On the other hand, tareks have a great deal of respect for all types of priestly magic. The elemental forces that hold sway over the world receive as much reverence as the violenttempered tareks are capable of giving. However, tarek tribes tolerate only one kind of cleric in their midst – earth clerics. Tareks respect the earth and everything connected with its elemental nature. They consider themselves to be born of the earth, and feel a kinship with the mountains and hills they choose to live among. “Solid is the tarek, strong like the earth, and numerous as the soil,” sing the earth clerics of the tarek tribes.
Tareks have an average life span of 50 years (though few creatures ever get to die naturally on Athas). They sometimes wage great wars with the gith, as both of these races seek to control the same territory. If they hate elves because of their association with magic, then they hate gith because the gith are seen as abominations to the elemental earth forces. Gith set up lairs beneath the mountains tareks hold sacred, defiling the earth with their very presence (at least according to the teachings of the tarek shamans). As such, tarek communities see it as their sacred duty to keep gith out of the mountains and hills they have selected as their homes.
- Kester - Female Tarek, Captain of the Shadow Viper silt ship.
- Kiv - Male, Half Tarek, Half Elf. Villager of Samarah whose wife was consort to Tithian.
Walter Baas (March 1992). Terrors of the Desert (Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium I). TSR, Inc. ISBN 1-56076-272-1.