The Grand Duchy of Wick is one of the semi-independent realms of Gard, one of the most influential realms in the Empire. Wick is mostly divided into cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, rather than farms and manors. Known for its public religion, powerful economy, and utopian idealism, Wick always occupies a prominent place in imperial affairs.
The Grand Duke of Wick is a brass dragon named Hancaxamot, formerly known as Grand Duke Hanca. Hancaxamot is one of the eldest brass dragons in Gard, but he has little love of governing. Most decisions for Wick are made by a legislative body called the Congress, which meets in Wick’s capital, Cutton.
Until the dragons’ influence was revealed in 451 OC, members of the Congress were supposedly elected by the Wickish themselves, and sent to Cutton as representatives of their towns. When it was learned that all the representatives were dragons in disguise, Wick became the first realm to participate in the Human’s Revolution. Riots consumed every Wickish town. For five months between 451 and 452, Wick was in near-total anarchy, fueled by religious zealots and power-hungry opportunists alike.
Ironically, this furious and violent reaction eventually turned most people’s sympathies away from the revolutionaries and towards the dragons, who promised peace and reforms. Today, humans do indeed make up much of the Congress, although the body also has many “permanent members” in the persons of brass dragons, mostly Hancaxamot’s relatives. The result is about a 50-50 split in membership between humanoids and dragons.
The Wickish rebellion ended with this peaceful resolution while other realms, like Chester, were still deep in the throes of the Revolution. Since then, Wick has become a pro-dragon stronghold, second only to Gideon City in its support of the brass dragons. From the Wickish perspective, as long as the dragons are honest about their dealings and don’t interfere with the society that humans are trying to build, there is no problem in sharing power with them.
Wick is located in the northeast of Gard. It is a diverse realm, with hilly regions, forests, rivers, plains, and grasslands. The land supports some agriculture, but most people live not in farms, but in settlements like cities and towns. These towns are connected by a network of roads and rivers.
Wick’s two largest settlements are its capital, Cutton, and Fortune, a slightly smaller city. Both cities are home to universities, which find themselves in competition not only with each other, but with other Gardish institutions such as the Collegiate. These universities have a more religious focus than any others east of Lasant.
To the north of Wick is Cadriyal, to which Wick sells many manufactured goods. To the south is Chester, which has been Wick’s rival for hundreds of years and continues to be to this day. To the east of Wick are Maxow and the Rushtide region, through which Wick ships its wares to Orient, and to which Wick sends many missionaries to try and cure it of its relative irreligion. To the west of Wick is Casogard, over which Wick is vying with Chester and Eustace for influence.
The Wickish believe very strongly in public life. The prevailing idea is that Wick is and should be a shining beacon of moral light to the rest of Gard, and to the world, and that all have a duty to contribute to making the community the greatest it can be.
While only the largest of Wick’s cities have universities, every village and town has a community-run school. These schools teach reading and writing, but also religion and morality. Education is important to the Wickish, but so is a unified society where all conform to the same standards of behavior and the same religion. So the main purpose of the schools is to mold students into upstanding and believing citizens, not to teach them a trade.
Even after schooling, community life is front and center for the Wickish. While the Grand Duke and the Congress manage affairs of national importance, every community has a council of (human) elders to manage local affairs. The members of these councils are elected by voting members of the community, which basically means anyone literate, adult, and in good standing with the church. The prevailing attitude in Wick is that everyone in the community should have a say in who runs the community, but that once leaders are selected, they should be given complete deference – at least until the next election.
Because of the strong focus on social cohesion, visitors from other lands receive mixed welcomes in Wick. Most communities attempt to be very hospitable to strangers, but also try to convert them to the Wickish religion and way of life. People who try to resist this conversion quickly see their hosts turn suspicious and aloof.
Wick’s economy is centered around small-scale manufacturing and craftsmanship. In order to sell these goods, Wickish traders travel throughout Gard, and indeed throughout the world, attempting to arrange trade routes. These merchants have gained a reputation for financial shrewdness and for being annoyingly preachy. Whenever a number of Wickish citizens gather in one place outside Wick, they always attempt to create public schools, which other nations see as an unwelcome attempt at cultural imperialism.
Part of Wick’s philosophy is that all people are worth the same – that even leaders and the wealthy are not inherently better than poor laborers. Aristocracy and slavery are abhorrent to the Wickish. Therefore, Wick has always been at odds with aristocratic Chester and classist Eustace. This rivalry used to extend to Gideon City as well, but that has changed ever since the discovery of the Bocan Islands. Unlike the Cestrians, Gideoner merchants were quick to overlook their historical disagreements in order to make lucrative trade arrangements that would let them buy goods from Wick and sell them at a profit in the New World. This and a shared pro-dragon attitude has brought Wick and Gideon City closer together than ever before.
With the establishment of a Eustan colony in Freedland not subject to draconic rule, many Wickish fear that the Archmages mean to institute a system of slavery in the new world. Furthermore, the Archmages have forbidden Wickish traders and missionaries from using their portal to get to Freedland quickly. The Eustans, in turn, have been infuriated by Wickish attempts to contest their hold on Freedland, which have included sending spies disguised as Eustan wizards through the portal, and attempts at establishing Wickish colonies in Freedland. One such colony, Emmath, seems to be succeeding.
The Grand Duchy of Wick is deeply religious. There is an established church of Wick, called the Synodic Church. The Synodic Church worships the gods Sidarch, Ielda, Lotheria, Exene, Dilentu, Hylaeos, and no others. Although the Synodic Church has a very decentralized organization, it does publish religious texts and ordain priests. Towns in Wick usually allow voting rights only to active members of the Synodic Church, and the community schools preach the values of the Synodic Church constantly, so almost everyone in Wick follows church teachings to some degree or another.
People who worship gods from this pantheon but are not church members are welcome in Wick, although they usually face forceful conversion efforts from church members. Followers of other gods are barely tolerated at all. Avillion and Avatrunei worshipers receive particularly bad welcomes, due to the association between those gods and Chester (and Eustace, in the case of Avillion). The worship of evil gods is outright forbidden and punishable by expulsion or death.
Wick has the smallest percentage of non-humans among all Gardish realms. There are plenty of halflings in the grand duchy, but other races are quite rare, except in the cities.