Path to The North
The Elves are one of the major races of the Forgotten Realms, and ruled large sections after the time of the Dragons and before the coming of men. Now the majority of these longlived beings have retreated from the onslaught of mankind, seeking quieter forests, and their numbers in the Realms are a faction of those even a thousand years ago.
The Elves of the Forgotten Realms are of human height, but much more slender. Their fingers and hands are half-again as long as men, and delicately tapered, and their bones are light and surprisingly sturdy. Elven faces are thinner and more serene, and Elven ears, as ears in half a hundred Known Worlds, are pointed.
Elves usually have hair of silver-white, black, or blue, though all reported colors normally found in men and Elves may be found in this race. Their eyes are blue, or green, and have gold flecks.
The Elves call their own race Tel-Quessir, which translates as the People. Strangers, in particular non-Elven strangers, are generally placed under the category NTelQuess, or Not-People. Most Elves treat the not-people with respect and politeness, as a host would a stumbling child, though the drow fiercely enslave any who are not of their race, and consider the other Elven subraces NTelQuess.
The Elves are generally ruled by noble houses, which have held control of their nations for generations (and given the nature and long life of Elves, the rule of a wise king may exceed the history of a human nation). The Elven rule is autocratic and absolute, and it is the theology and philosophy of these elves which prevent abuse of such complete power. The monarchs of the Elven Court make pronouncements rarely, preferring to remain outside the normal course of their subjects lives. Once such a decision is made, whether to declare war or retreat to Evermeet, it is followed by the bulk of the population.
The oddest phenomenon of Elvish life (to human observers) is the Retreat, which is viewed as a lemming-like drive to sail beyond the sea. In the case of the Elves of the Forgotten Realms, the reason is not some biological drive, but rather the decision of the leaders of the Elven nations to withdraw to less hostile lands.
Such a decision is made after years (mankind generations) of thought and meditation, and once made, is irrevocable. In the case of the recently-voided Elven Court, the decision to retreat was made some 500 years after deliberation began, so that while for humans the disappearance of the Elven Court is regarded as a sudden vacuum in the heart of the Realms, for the Elven Court itself it was as inevitable (and as important) as a merchant moving his shop further down the street to increase the distance from a competitor.
The Elves in retreat always make for Evermeet, and there whatever nobles led the retreat swear their fealty to Queen Amlaruil, who is that domains monarch. Long ago the Elven nation of Evermeet made the decision to tight those men who came to her shores, and as a result is both the strongest power of the sea, and a haven of the other Elves in retreat.
Those Elves on the Sword Coast and with easy access to the sea make the passage to Evermeet by boat, protected by the Navy of the Queen. How those further inland cross is not known, for none see their passage out of the world of men. The everyday Elven folk know not the method, for after they retired one evening, their leaders and mages worked great spells or appeared the gods, for they awoke in their new homes.
The former Eleven nations of the Realms include Illefarn, where Waterdeep now rises; Askaver, which is now called the Wood of Sharp Teeth: and the Elven Court, which once ruled Cormanthyr, the forest country that ran from Cormyr to the Moonsea. Current Elven nations include Evermeet its seaward seclusion and Evereska, which has just set up a colony in the Greycloak Hills. In addition, there are scattered groups of Elves found throughout the realms, including wild Elves, groups without noble rulers, the dark Elves, those who have found Evermeet not to their tastes and departed, and adventurers.