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"People blame the military for the wars that we are asked to fight. But I think it is your kind, Major, that will be the death of us all."

The Tal Shiar was a Romulan intelligence agency, described by the Federation as the Romulan secret police. They were a ruthless and efficient organization, whose purpose was to ensure loyalty; to defy them is to invite imprisonment, forced disappearance, or death. It was comparable to the Cardassian Obsidian Order and Section 31. (TNG: "Face Of The Enemy"; DS9: "Inquisition", "The Die is Cast"; PIC: "Maps and Legends")

A Tal Shiar myth claimed that the organization was merely a mask worn by a far older cabal called the Zhat Vash. (PIC: "Maps and Legends")

Koval, 2375

Koval, the Tal Shiar chairman in 2375


Vreenak, the vice-chairman of the Tal Shiar in 2374

Rakal (Major)

Deanna Troi disguised as Major Rakal in 2369


It was common practice for the chairman of the Tal Shiar to be a member of the Continuing Committee. This was initially not the case for Chairman Koval, who was kept off the Committee, as he had often displayed anti-Federation sentiment and was opposed to the Federation Alliance against the Dominion. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")

Senator Vreenak was the vice-chairman of the Tal Shiar during the 2370s, up until his untimely death in 2374. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")

The Tal Shiar reported only to the highest levels of the Romulan government, and even so they undertook many missions without the direct knowledge of the Romulan Senate, conducting operations with virtual impunity throughout the Empire. Their authority superseded that of most Romulan military commanders, resulting in a mutual distrust and hatred between the two organizations. The Tal Shiar operated their own fleet, often to their own aims. (TNG: "Face Of The Enemy"; DS9: "The Die is Cast")


At some point prior to 2369, the father of Commander Toreth, an old man and devoted citizen, was dragged from his home and arrested in the middle of the night by the Tal Shiar for being an idealist and speaking his mind about the Empire. He was never to be heard from again. (TNG: "Face Of The Enemy")

In 2369, the Romulan underground movement forced Counselor Deanna Troi of the USS Enterprise-D to pose as Major Rakal of the Tal Shiar in order to facilitate the defection of Vice-Proconsul M'ret and his aides to the Federation. The real Major Rakal was killed prior to the operation. (TNG: "Face Of The Enemy")

In 2371, the Tal Shiar formed a secret coalition with the Cardassian Obsidian Order, to carry out a preemptive strike against the Founders' homeworld in the Dominion. As part of this operation, they carried out the assassinations of several former Obsidian Order operatives, including (unsuccessfully) Elim Garak. However, the Tal Shiar itself had been infiltrated by the Founders, and their combined fleet of twenty ships was ambushed and annihilated at the Battle of the Omarion Nebula. (DS9: "Improbable Cause", "The Die is Cast")

Unlike the Obsidian Order, the Tal Shiar was able to be rebuilt after the attack on the Founders' homeworld. In 2374, operatives of the Romulan Military hijacked the prototype starship USS Prometheus and attempted to bring it to the Star Empire. They were supposed to bring it to the Military but received orders during the operation to deliver it to the Tal Shiar's fleet instead. (VOY: "Message in a Bottle")

In late 2374, the Tal Shiar investigated the destruction of Senator Vreenak's shuttle. Their preliminary report pointed towards Dominion sabotage. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")

The chairman of the Tal Shiar during the Dominion War, Koval, was in fact a Federation collaborator who was planted in preparation for feared hostilities following the end of the war. Following covert maneuvering orchestrated by Section 31, Koval became a member of the Continuing Committee from which he had been previously excluded. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")

In 2375, the Tal Shiar was responsible for the security arrangements of the Romulan Conference. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")

In 2384, Commander Kaseth led a team of Tal Shiar commandos to infiltrate Noble Isle and capture the USS Protostar. However, the Protostar crew were able to escape. (PRO: "Masquerade")

After the supernova of the Romulan sun in 2387 and the creation of the Romulan Free State, the Tal Shiar/Zhat Vash had agents operating on Earth and at the Romulan Reclamation Site. In 2399, these agents carried out multiple attacks on retired Starfleet admiral Jean-Luc Picard on Earth before a fleet of Red Lady-type warbirds nearly attacked the Federation protectorate world of Coppelius. (PIC: "Remembrance", "Maps and Legends", "The End is the Beginning", "Broken Pieces", "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2")


While the Dominion considered the Tal Shiar a ruthless and efficient organization, and a definite threat, Obsidian Order head Enabran Tain always used to say that they were "sloppy". Indeed, according to Odo, not even the Tal Shiar could compete with the Obsidian Order when it came to intelligence gathering and covert operations. (DS9: "The Wire", "The Die is Cast", "Improbable Cause")

Commander Konsab of the Romulan Intelligence Academy had strong opinions on the difference between the Romulan military and the Tal Shiar. He believed that in order to function, military officers have to trust each other. The Tal Shiar, on the other hand, trusted no one. They expected deception, and so they always found it. (TNG: "Face Of The Enemy")



Background information[]

The Tal Shiar was first mentioned in the form of the Federation impostor Major Rakal in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Face Of The Enemy". "Face of the Enemy" writer Naren Shankar named the organization as a homage to the tal-shaya, a Vulcan martial arts technique from TOS: "Journey to Babel". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 234)

The Tal Shiar insignia was designed by Ricardo Delgado. (Star Trek Sticker Book, pg. 18)

In a line in the script but not the final version of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine second season episode "The Wire", Benjamin Sisko mentioned Stolpan, a Romulan friend of his, being arrested by the Tal Shiar and taken to their headquarters. [1]


In Star Trek: Countdown, in 2387 the Tal Shiar had been experimenting with Borg nanoprobe technology, and chose the miner Narada as a test-bed for the system – explaining how Nero's "simple mining vessel" could become the all-but-invincible force seen in Star Trek.

In The Way of D'era, the Tal Shiar has a military counterpart, the Tal Diann. The Tal Diann was set up by the Romulan Navy to keep tabs on both the Tal Shiar and several fleets directed by Senators, reporting the former's actions to Star Command, and the latter's to the Praetor.

In Star Trek Online, set in the year 2409, the Tal Shiar are the main rivals of Empress Sela for control of the dying Romulan Empire, which has become engulfed by internal conflict since the destruction of Romulus in 2387. The Tal Shiar have aligned with the Iconians against the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and the dissident colony of "New Romulus", seeing the Iconians as their best bet of regaining their former glory. In the feature episode series "Cloaked Intentions", players from both the Federation and the Klingon Empire join the Reman resistance against the Tal Shiar and their commander, Colonel Hakeev, culminating in a showdown at a secret Romulan base that incorporates active Iconian gateways. In STO's expansion pack, Legacy of Romulus, the Tal Shiar is the principal antagonist of the Romulan Republic's story line, which ends with the five missions of "Cloaked Intentions".

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