IX. Trade and External Relations
Among the items imported by the Tehir in the low-volume trading are iron for daggers; bronze for jewelry and small storage devices; silver for jewelry and divining items; glass and ceramic beads; non-native woods including the light and flexible balsam; seashells, which are commonly used as high-value currency; linen thread for weaving; herbs for preserving and preparing food; a variety of dried fruits, wheat, and grains; rawhide and leather for clothing and yierka saddles; and domesticated livestock such as goats.
Exports from the Sea of Fire (trade of which is at times dominated by Imperial caravans) include copper, gold (very limited), turquoise, clothing, exotic rodents and lizards, skins, olives and olive oil, mesquite for cooking, salt, spices, millet, palm hearts, avocadoes, aloe, acacia, jewelry, snakestones and other magic items, and a host of native stones favored throughout the empire for embellishing reliquaries.
Internal trade will include all items listed as import and export. Favored bundles passed between healers and shaman may contain a broad variety of cacti needles (some exclusive to specific oases), each of which is used for a different application. Of the less tangible trades, Tehir have a distinct way of passing song and verse between the tribes: it is common for servile songsmiths to be traded during noble marriages. As a result, legends and myths continue to be passed about. The craftsmen and jewelry smiths may barter for fire opals and exotic gems for their fine and elaborate pieces.
In centuries past, the Tehir had a solid network of slave labor and slave trade that supported the noble class. As transitory and sedent life became much easier, the tribes grew from the bottom up and the need for slave labor decreased to the point where most tribes no longer rely on the old way. Despite the relinquishing of power over their slaves, distinct social classes still remain. The most noble continue to control most trade alliances, and with control comes the power to decide to expand their markets. Relations with the Empire are slim at best, though a few tribes have eked out prime markets with exclusive traders.
Additional sources of power for the Tehir come in the way of supposed taxes over land dominance: some tribes may claim to provide safe passage for a caravan of trade goods from one side of the Sea of Fire to another. This toll comes at a very steep price of silver, animals, and grain. Incidentally, it is not wholly uncommon for those same travelers to be raided during moments of arrogance or naivety. It is also not unheard of for the tax and the raid to be carefully orchestrated between two tribes.
Through these outlying and often overlooked alliances, the practice took a surprising turn in the last century: The most adaptable and economically tenacious of tribes, formerly associated with slave trade (some of which are supported by the offspring of Imperial troops taken into slavery) found a common venture between themselves. Assisting in negotiations for safe passage through the desert, these quick-witted tribes carved a path not only for Emperor Yarrowe and his copper mining, but also for their own exile from the barrens! In a series of concerted assaults by their disapproving brethren, three tribes of Tehir were effectively driven from the Sea of Fire. Once out of the desert, the displaced Tehir found fortune in securing carefully timed trade routes on the western edge of the Sea of Fire. This assistance helped to solidify matters of identity for the Shakat of Solhaven and River's Rest, though it increased the Tehir-Shakat resentment.