Special Issue 8
Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
EXCLUSIVE Interview with G’nort Dragoon-Talanador
By Tippletoe Timbers
As we draw nearer to the end of March Madness 2021, I thought we’d take some time to wax nostalgic with G’nort Dragoon-Talanador aka “G”. G’nort was the first person to win March Madness back in 2007
against opponents such as Rakeesh Sah Tarna, Maria Graziano, and Tarl Cabot. His winning prize was the Old Market District Barony
and a challenge grant prize gifted to Horatio Macbeth
. G’nort officially retired
four years ago at the hands of Madness 2021 Ilnaren Division #1 Seed: Salvador Delahada.
About G’nort Dragoon-Talanador
For those of you new(er) to the Duel of Swords scene, here’s a few facts about DoS legend G’nort. G’nort first appears on the historical standings November, 1996
. He reached the rank of Warlord in five months (back when losses counted for every duelist). G’nort has held eleven different DoS titles, four of them twice.
If you’ve heard of the Team Dueling League, the first dueling sports team event, G’nort also held some records there. He has the most all-time duels and all-time wins in the league, and led the Company of the Dragon to victory during the 519 Season earning the Best Captain
Read on to find out who G looks up to for inspiration, the origins of G’nort 3:16, which ex-wife he hates the least, and possible invites for a Charity Dueling Ball!
Cover Photo: Set in the Talanador Towers, Tippletoe Timbers sits in an rich, velvet overstuffed chair across from G'nort Talanador. A fireplace roars softly between them, and a finely carved table is set with two tumblers and a bottle of scotch. G'nort is leaning back casually, a smile playing on his lips with an eye towards the camera.
Thank you so much for meeting with me Mr. Dragoon-Talanador! Can I call you G'nort? G?
Truly a pleasure. I can always make time for good publicity, and please, call me 'G'.
Question 1: The Beginnings
Let’s start off getting to know you a little bit. How did you find yourself in RhyDin and end up the rings?
Ah, well. Back in the olden days, people used to just randomly find themselves passing through portals and ending up here. I, myself was one such soul. Sailing on my ship and passing through the fog. Once through, finding there weren't any familiar stars, so ended up settling at the first available port. Turned out to be Rhydin. As to the rings, one of my first friends here, you might remember her, Ellisa Morgan, asked me to come watch her perform in her first Warlord's Tournament. Extra support, you know. Of course, I did. Then a few months later, I decided to experience the rings myself and once I did, I was completely, how would you say it, hooked, addicted even. Despite the horrid record I held in my early days, I kept at it. The rest, as they say, is history.
What was it that hooked you so completely, that kept you going even with a rough early start?
Ahh... it was the competition, the sport of it all. The feeling of exhilaration not only when you make a successful strike, but when you were able to come away with the victory. The determination to be a success in everything I do. I couldn't simply sit there with a horrible record, no, I had to become better. I can honestly say that never once did I ever think of quitting in those earlier days. I had my goals. The first, of course, to increase my ranking, make Warlord, then see where to go next.
Question 2: Creating Success
You have some very notable achievements, as a duelist and as a team captain. What does it take to be successful like that, both individually and in leading teams to a championship victory?
I'm assuming you're referring to my tenure as owner and captain of the Company of the Dragon Team Dueling League team, yes? In the league, it was usually much like a chess match. You can have a team of all star caliber fighters, but if you don't know how to best utilize them, what good is that?
So, the best way to lead a team to victory is knowing yourself, building a team for overall success rather than individual, and knowing the best positions to place them in, and when not to use certain fighters in certain situations. I'm not ashamed to admit that there were many times that I willingly sacrificed a fighter on my team in order to ensure a better matchup overall. Much like one sacrifices a pawn to the queen in order to get closer to the king. I would say that I was very good at what I did back then. Only had a couple of poor seasons in, what was it, eleven? Twelve seasons?
You have to be good at strategy to be a good captain.
As to successful, individual success, that's more along the lines of just being, well, good, I guess. Know your opponents, know your own faults, keep on fighting to be better. I may not have been the best, though I will always say I am, but I was very, very good. Knowledge is power, after all.
Question 3: Dueling Heroes
As someone who was very, very good, did you have any heroes or mentors you looked up to? People you aspired to be like in the rings?
I mean, early on, I suppose there was a few that I looked to as a sort of goal. I don't know if I would call them heroes of mine, but fighters that I respected. My third duel ever was against a Warlady named Merewyne. After she defeated me, she took the time to give me advice, tips, and help, you know? So in that regard, I would say I respected that to the point of wanting to be good enough to help the younger and newer fighters out when I could. Others I respected, I would say, were Iain MacKenzie, Luthien, Jake, Bishop, Kalamere, even my old foe Lupton, who I had many run ins with.
Question 4: Memorable Duels
Can you tell us about a few memorable duels? One that you really enjoyed, or a nail bitter you'll never forget? Or perhaps a high stakes challenge you felt was significant?
Do you know one thing that really grates on me? Undeserved ego. When someone thinks they are so good, but have done nothing to earn those bragging rights except happen to get lucky once. So, I am very glad for this question.
There was one fighter I remember clearly, because of this incident, named Jacob Ryleigh. One night, we fought in the rings, pretty standard match, really. Anyway, Jacob managed to defeat me. No big deal, after all, I've lost plenty of matches in my life. However, the very next weekend, he happened to come in with a woman, and they were sitting at a table. He pointed me out to her and said, I forget the exact wording so I'm paraphrasing a little. He said “See him? That's G'nort, he's a Baron and I beat him down last week.”
Now, of course I didn't much care for him using me as a way to score points with his girl, so naturally, I prodded him to back it up and see if he could do it again. This put him in a poor position because now he had to save face with his girl. So, he agreed, and stepped into the ring, where I promptly shut him out in six rounds. Would have been better if it was a perfect, but, the shutout was still very satisfying. Needless to say he was very humbled and all I said was that he should be careful what he brags about.
Aside from that, I mean, I've had very many challenges, both as a challenger and defender, so I can't honestly remember much about them any longer, except for my last challenge for Overlord. I mean, I had -always- said that I never felt the need or want to go for Overlord, and that was true. But once I became the first person to hold all the Baronies, there was nothing left until I realized that the only thing I had left, was in fact, to become the first All Title Holder in the Arena. So, I had to challenge Rand for that title. Which I did, and which I won. My only regret is that the match took so long to complete because of how incredibly cautious I was being. Nerves, you understand, was a very important match at the time.
Question 5: G’nort 3:16
You've left a lot of legacies at the Arena, being the first All Title Holder among them. But the one people hear the most, even our newest duelists, is the reference G'nort 3:16. What is G’nort 3:16 and how did it come about?
They still say that, huh? Ahh, that's wonderful. G'nort 3:16, to answer the question, is simply no slashing. I would say it every time I successfully destroyed someone when they tried the maneuver against me, which was often. I, of course, would say it very emphatically. 'G'nort 3:16 says -NO- Slashing!!' It came about sort of as an alternative from some advice I got from the previously mentioned Iain MacKenzie, who had always told me that slashing was a poor attack because it was generally slower, clumsy and had very little strategic value, whereas stepping aside gained the same benefits and more. So, I took it to mean that I should never slash anyone in a match, then got more, shall we say, 'obsessed' with the idea.
The G'nort 3:16 part came from a sort of alternative to what is known as a Christian Bible, where there is John 3:16, and then taken from an alternate reality where a person was saying Austin 3:16. So, I simply modified that to my use and thus was born G'nort 3:16. And I became very well known for that catch phrase. Which pleases me greatly.
So, after you started G'nort 3:16, did you ever
There were occasions where I have been seen to slash, yes. There were only ever three acceptable reasons I would do it. One. Because I knew my opponent well enough to know when they were susceptible to getting hit by it, and by then if you got hit by me with a slash, it would be incredibly demoralizing and pretty much guarantee the win. Two. To prove a point that slashing is dumb, which, of course, costs you that point and shows that slashing is, indeed, dumb. And Three. When it's funny. I had an entire routine for the funny ones which involved a great deal of theatrics. Which made it even funnier if my opponent was gonna get hit, cause that's doubly demoralizing. Of course, there are people who don't agree with my assessment, and that's fine.
Question 6: March Madness
Let's talk about March Madness for a bit, What can you tell us about the origins of March Madness? How it got started, why the divisions were named after specific folks, how the seeding was done, whose palms were greased in the process?
Mmmm, ah yes, the main purpose to this interview. This I remember clearly. It was the brainchild of the then Arena Coordinator, Chris Graziano, who modeled it after a tournament he enjoyed on his previous world. Once he came up with the model and announced it, my god, the excitement for something like that hadn't been seen in years. I can't say if he worked on the details alone, which I imagine he had some input from others, but the very idea of having 64 different fighters competing, it pulled people out of retirement! Very exciting.
The divisions, that was, again, Chris' brainchild, he wanted to pay tribute to who he felt were important duelists of the past. Honestly, I can't even recall without researching what those division names were, but I know he gave a good amount of thought into choosing them.
As to the seeding, he chose three others to be division managers, of which I was one of them. Chris was as well, and I can't remember who the other two were at the time. He gave us all our individual ways of choosing how to do the seeding, which was not easy at all, because it was the first Madness, people came out of retirement for it, and we were encouraged to take lifetime accomplishments in the Arena into account. This meant a good deal of work finding all the accomplishments for 16 individual fighters, lifetime! For me, if I recall correctly, I counted the titles held, the level of the title, like Overlord and Baron vs Warlord, tournaments won, challenges, special events that occurred, etc. Not a simple task.
And, of course, not everyone agreed with the seeding, because some felt slighted they were lower than they thought they should be, and a few thought they were higher than they should. But it was an extremely fun thing to do. I mean, hell, we had OVER 64 duelists enter! A waiting list, so incredible.
Chris said the following Tournaments would only be for the previous years accomplishments, making it easy after that. As to whose palms were greased, I mean, nobody bribed me at the time, so for anyone else, you'd have to ask them.
Question 7: Winning Madness
I can't imagine how amazing that first year must have been! And then, you not only helped organize it, you won it! What was that like?!
Pretty intense, if I recall correctly. I mean, it was the first Madness tournament, probably the largest ever overall, the most challenging to seed, and then I was the first winner. Honestly, I didn't expect to win it all, but I wasn't going to not try. I mean, the first rounds, the pressure isn't that bad. But the further you get, the more stressful it becomes because hey, I'm closer to winning this thing. Then, the final? Yes, that was just as much, if not more, pressure than a challenge match would be. Except in that one, you would be the first ever. That's historical.
Do you remember any of those fights? Is there one that stands out to you as being a key win on your way to history?
Two, actually. The first being the Horatio MacBeth match, which I advanced due to his injury. Nobody should like a free pass in a tournament like that. You should earn your way. The second, of course, would be the Final. Few people could name the person who came in second in that match without looking. It was Tarl Cabot, by the way. And nobody wants to be known as the Almost Won, or Number Two. You want to be the number one, winner, victor. Like I said, that final match was more stressful than a challenge match, so, winning it and becoming the first was pretty memorable, especially since the tournament still continues to this day.
Question 8: Tournaments and Leagues
It definitely does, and it's been incredibly rewarding to help contribute to the tournament this year. You've seen a lot of different tournaments and leagues come and go in twenty years. What makes something stick? Why do things end? And do you think there's a life expectancy on something like March Madness, which now only has 32 participants?
Well, it's sad, really. There have been many good ideas that were used over the years, leagues, etc. First thing that answers the first two questions is, 'Interest.' There has to be an interest in something in order for it to stick around. If there's no interest, nobody will bother with trying to run something that's intensive and challenging to organize and administrate. Both tournaments and leagues need participants, and they need participants who are interested in them. Sometimes, that just goes away for something brighter and shinier. As to a life expectancy for Madness? I can't really say, because I haven't been paying too much attention to the Arena to gauge the fighters interest in such a thing. But, being the realist I am, I would say there is an end of life to it. That would make even me sad, but I would understand. I hope not, though, it really is the best tournament in all the sports.
I think you're right. I think all good things do come to an end, but it's nice to enjoy them while they last.
Question 9: Community
Something really stood out to me while I was researching for this interview. When you won, you got both a Barony and a Challenge Grant Prize to hand out. Instead of just picking a recipient for the prize, you consulted the community
of duelers. Why did you do that?
Mmm, I remember what you are talking about. Honestly, I felt that the free win I got due to Horatio's forfeit left a slightly bad taste in my mouth, but I also felt that for a free grant, and grants were a new idea at that point in time, that it shouldn't be taken lightly. I knew if I just picked someone, I would be scrutinized a great deal for it. Calls of favoritism, preferential treatment, etc. would be coming my way. But, I knew there were several people who I thought could really use something that was rare at that time. So I decided that I wanted to gauge public opinion on the matter to see who they might think deserved a chance at a title. Was pretty interesting to see what happened after that.
What did happen after that?
Well, I got a lot of opinions on the matter. Some funny responses, especially from Marc Franco, the big blogger at the time who made fun of everyone. Would have loved to have him want to get it. I believe I eventually gave it to Horatio, but I can't really remember off the top of my head. Would have to go through records to look that up, and, well, who has time for that?
Maybe some of our readers will be inspired to look it up!
Maybe they will. And maybe they get to learn some history along the way. Wouldn't that be nice?
Question 10: The Wrap Up
Okay, last question. If there was a Dueling Charity Ball, who would be your top five invites and would you come yourself?
Well that depends, am I giving any money? What's the charity for? Is it something I can support? I mean, we got a lot of factors to take into consideration.
Assuming it would be something I'd support, I would say I could make an appearance. I mean, I am such a nice guy and love helping out those in need. That sounded sincere right? Okay good.
As to who I'd invite, top five? I honestly have no idea. Whoever has the most money, I guess. And Sal. I'd definitely invite Salvador. He's a trip. Maybe, I don't know, my ex-wifes club. See what happens when they get together, maybe bash me, or better yet, bash each other. That would be highly entertaining. Dig up Matt Simon, too. Whoever is old and grumpy, just to make them even grumpier, I think.
Scary Sal and Old Man Simon are great! I like them. Well, mostly AncientSkies Matt Simon. I think Surly-Scary-Sal might eat me one day. Now, you have an ex-wife's club? Or does your ex-wife (wives?) have a club?
I just assumed they had a club. There's so many of them, after all. And Sal would never eat you. You're a female. And gnomes are so tough and gamey. Not a lot of flavor there.
Well that's reassuring! Speaking of ex-wives, someone in the office wanted me to ask you this. Which of your ex-wives do you like the most, or, hate the least?
Oh that's easy. Kaja. Kaja Adair. As to why her, it's cause she understood me, completely. We were in a free for all match, and we teamed up, eliminating the competition until it was down to me and her. So, of course I did the gentlemanly thing and tossed her out to win the match. She didn't get angry or anything. She totally understood.
Well thank you so much for spending this time with me, it's been a pleasure to meet the legend! Do you have any last words or parting shots?
Oh it has been a pleasure, absolutely. And yes, a couple last words, considering how much I love talking it seems. For the fans, First, this is an interview, I still have no intention of returning. Second, G'nort 3-16 still says -NO- Slashing!! and third and finally, Είμαι συνταξιούχος. Look it up.
It was so amazing, as someone who looked up to G back in the ‘old’ days, to interview him IC. He was very generous in sacrificing a couple of hours for me. I had so much more I wanted to ask him, especially OOC. But I stuck to one question.
Q: You dueled for an incredibly long time, 20 years. What was the best part of dueling, for you?
A: So, those 20 years, the best part of it really has to be the people I met along the way, sometimes going to gatherings and such. One of the ways I always described dueling was that it was the closest to professional sports a guy like me could get. Competing in a real sort of way against people from, literally, all over the world. I mean, they have professional gaming events, chess tournaments, etc all over. Dueling was that to me and I met some pretty great people during that time. So, those were the best things.