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Old 08-27-2022, 09:02 AM   #1
Boromir88
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The Orc who knew too much

Ugluk's warning to Grishnakh has always interested me:

Quote:
"You seem to know a lot," said Ugluk. "More than is good for you, I guess."~The Uruk-hai
This is Ugluk's response to Grishnakh talking about the Nazgul, and how Sauron will not unleash the winged Nazgul just yet, "they're for the war, and other purposes" he says. Then later, it becomes evident to Pippin that Grishnakh knows about the Ring and he is able to trick Grishnakh into thinking he has it. It's one of my disappointments in the movie, because Grishnakh is shown to be driven by just wanting to munch on some hobbit legs. We miss out on an interesting orc, as well as Pippin's development, to be quick thinking and resourceful! Anyway...

For an orc, Ugluk's right, Grishnakh seems to know a lot. How did this happen? How did this come to be, because orcs I've assumed just can't be trusted for such an important tasks. Or trusted with "classified" information, such as knowing about the One Ring. Look at what happens between Shagrat and Gorbag, they only seem to vaguely know the boss wants a "weapon" for the war. Grishnakh, however, appears to know specific details about the Ring, the Nazgul, and Gollum's capture.

It's different than Shagrat and Gorbag's vague understanding and Ugluk's guess comes true. Grishnakh's demise is because he knew more than what was good for him. How did he become such a learned orc?
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Old 08-27-2022, 05:04 PM   #2
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Hmm, don't remember thinking of this before.

It's a lot of conjecture, because we aren't told a great deal about GrishnŠkh. He does make an interesting statement, though. When threatening Uglķk, he says:

Quote:
'They (Lugburz) might think that Uglķk's shoulders needed relieving of a swollen head.....They might agree with me, with GrishnŠkh their trusted messenger (emphasis added) and I GrishnŠkh say this: Saruman is a fool, and a dirty treacherous fool. But the Great Eye is on him'.
So, he's a "messenger"? From whom to whom? Could he have been part of a contingent sent from Mordor to Isengard in response to the drama with Gandalf's capture and escape? That could explain for his knowledge of Saruman, and the latter's desire for the Ring. I would think it possible that some of the higher ranking Orcs could have been told that Saruman was looking for a ring, and couldn't be allowed to have it. Even Sauron couldn't keep all his underlings completely in the dark (pun not intended).

Add in the possibility that GrishnŠkh could have heard rumors about Gollum's earlier capture, or even had a hand in it. And, later, Gollum was allowed to "escape" from Mordor by Sauron. That sort of thing would cause tremendous curiosity among Sauron's servants in the know, and I don't think it's unlikely that some news of why Gollum was important to Sauron could have been discovered by the rank and file.
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Old 08-27-2022, 07:01 PM   #3
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Add this tidbit, from the Chronology: Ugluk and his band, long before G ever showed up, had captured Gollum lurking on the borders of Lorien, and Questioned him. Not only that, but here's the interesting part- from this Ugluk was able to deduce that the Ring had been present. And still more interesting, this last bit of crucial info he elects NOT to include in his report to Orthanc.

Now, how on earth did Ugluk know so much? And how does that color his response to Grishnakh?
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Old 08-27-2022, 07:05 PM   #4
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It's worth pointing out, I think, just how LITTLE we know about Mordor--other than Sauron himself and the NazgŻl, almost none of its history is covered in the Appendices, and other than GrishnŠkh, Shagrat, and Gorbag, we don't see any of its citizens interacting. The fact that GrishnŠkh seems to know more than the other two tells us something, but we don't want to overinterpret it: we don't know if it means he has knowledge that's as shocking as a random Guardsman knowing Denethor is using a palantŪr or if it's more on the level of Sam being more aware of the Elves than Ted Sandyman.

I think there's a tendency to think of Mordor as a secretive society, partly because we know so little about it and partly because to the good guys the Ring (and what they're doing with it) is a great and terrible secret, but we don't actually know what is secret and what is public in Mordor. In a "panopticon" sort of way, I wonder if things might have been more dreadfully public than we think.
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Old 08-27-2022, 10:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
It's one of my disappointments in the movie, because Grishnakh is shown to be driven by just wanting to munch on some hobbit legs. We miss out on an interesting orc, as well as Pippin's development, to be quick thinking and resourceful! Anyway...
That was a very disappointing whiff.

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
because orcs I've assumed just can't be trusted for such an important tasks. Or trusted with "classified" information, such as knowing about the One Ring.
I think that impression comes because of Gandalf's statement about orc trustworthiness when he is speaking with the part of the Fellowship that made it to Isengard. There are also statements to that effect in Unfinished Tales, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields, where Tolkien is speaking in his omniscient authorial voice.

However...

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
How did he become such a learned orc?
I think Inzil is right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I would think it possible that some of the higher ranking Orcs could have been told that Saruman was looking for a ring, and couldn't be allowed to have it. Even Sauron couldn't keep all his underlings completely in the dark (pun not intended).

Add in the possibility that GrishnŠkh could have heard rumors about Gollum's earlier capture, or even had a hand in it. And, later, Gollum was allowed to "escape" from Mordor by Sauron. That sort of thing would cause tremendous curiosity among Sauron's servants in the know, and I don't think it's unlikely that some news of why Gollum was important to Sauron could have been discovered by the rank and file.
I think GrishnŠkh was high ranking in Barad-dur and I think it very likely, given his immediate reaction to Pippin, that he had personally encountered Gollum. He was an emissary, inherently a position of trust. This may have been a role he had fulfilled to many people and places. He might have been a well travelled orc; perhaps even to the level of being an anti-hero of another tale.

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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
Add this tidbit, from the Chronology: Ugluk and his band, long before G ever showed up, had captured Gollum lurking on the borders of Lorien, and Questioned him. Not only that, but here's the interesting part- from this Ugluk was able to deduce that the Ring had been present. And still more interesting, this last bit of crucial info he elects NOT to include in his report to Orthanc.

Now, how on earth did Ugluk know so much? And how does that color his response to Grishnakh?
Wonder why Ugluk wouldn't have thought that he himself didn't know too much.

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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
The fact that GrishnŠkh seems to know more than the other two tells us something
I think he knew more because he worked at Barad-dur and not on the frontier.

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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
I think there's a tendency to think of Mordor as a secretive society, partly because we know so little about it and partly because to the good guys the Ring (and what they're doing with it) is a great and terrible secret, but we don't actually know what is secret and what is public in Mordor. In a "panopticon" sort of way, I wonder if things might have been more dreadfully public than we think.
In a way it makes sense. When there is no possibility of being overthrown from within what harm is there in lax information security? Especially when there is very little chance of communication between your people and the enemy.

Still, I think given the overall tone of the descriptions of how Sauron conducted his operations, I think he kept things pretty close to the vest.

As an aside, in my early days, I had always thought that GrishnŠkh was an emissary to the Misty Mountain orcs. I believe now that he must have joined Ugluk around the time that the Nazgul had the winged beast killed by Legolas because GrishnŠkh was accompanying that Nazgul.

Still, it makes sense that Sauron may have dispatched somebody post haste to Moria after figuring out that the Ring was headed that way.

EDIT: Or perhaps GrishnŠkh was posted to Dol Guldur at the time..?
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Old 08-28-2022, 12:53 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inzil
So, he's a "messenger"? From whom to whom? Could he have been part of a contingent sent from Mordor to Isengard in response to the drama with Gandalf's capture and escape? That could explain for his knowledge of Saruman, and the latter's desire for the Ring
Hmm, that could be. "Trusted" messenger is a great find. That makes sense and seems to fit with the timeline. In The White Rider, when Gandalf rejoins the three hunters, he says Sauron was aware the Ring left Rivendell, as well as the number and makeup of the Fellowship. It would make sense, Sauron would have other agents (besides just the Nazgul, particularly after their horses were drowned) searching and giving him information. Gandalf also says Saruman will soon be outed as a traitor:

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No tidings of the battle will come to Mordor, thanks to the horsemen of Rohan; but the Dark Lord knows that two hobbits were taken in the Emyn Muil and borne away towards Isengard against the will of his own servants. He now has Isengard to fear as well as Minas Tirith. If Minas Tirith falls, it will go ill with Saruman.~The White Rider
Bolding, my emphasis. Given Grishnakh calling Saruman a "dirty" and "treacherous" wizard, it seems likely he was sent out from Mordor after Gandalf's escape from Orthanc. Perhaps even with the task of keeping tabs on what Saruman was up to?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuru
As an aside, in my early days, I had always thought that GrishnŠkh was an emissary to the Misty Mountain orcs. I believe now that he must have joined Ugluk around the time that the Nazgul had the winged beast killed by Legolas because GrishnŠkh was accompanying that Nazgul.
Indeed. Grishnakh told Ugluk there was a Nazgul waiting on the the east bank of the Anduin for them, and snuck away after the fight with the Isengarders. When Grishnakh comes back is the exchange that prompted the idea for this thread:

Quote:
"Splendid!" laughed Ugluk. "But unless you've got some guts for fighting, you've taken the wrong way. Lugburz was your road. The Whiteskins are coming. What's happened to your precious Nazgul? Has he had another mount shot under him? Now, if you'd brought him along, that might have been useful - if these Nazgul are all they make out."

"Nazgul, Nazgul," said Grishnakh, shivering and licking his lips as if the word had a foul taste that he savored painfully. "You speak of what is deep beyond the reach of your muddy dreams, Ugluk" he said. "Nazgul! Ah! All that they make out! One day you'll wish that you had not said that! Ape!" he snarled fiercely. "You ought to know that they're the apple of the Great Eye. But the winged Nazgul: not yet, not yet. He won't let them show themselves across the Great River yet, not too soon. They're for the War - and other purposes."~The Uruk-hai
So, Grishnakh left, reported to the Nazgul on the east bank that Saruman's band were "taking the hobbits to Isengard" (sorry ). This fits Gandalf's statement that Sauron would soon become aware of Saruman's treachery.

This is conjecture, but it makes sense. Grishnakh says Sauron would not let the winged Nazgul cross the Anduin just yet. After giving his report, the Nazgul instructed him to rejoin Ugluk, get the hobbit prisoners and bring them back to be taken to Lugburz. I agree with Kuru, seeing how Grishnakh immediately reacts to Pippin's "gollum" trick, he was probably working under the Nazgul who tortured Gollum, because he says this to Pippin as well:

Quote:
"My dear tender littler fools," hissed Grishnakh, "everything you have, and everything you know, will be got out of you in due time, everything! You'll wish there was more that you could tell to satisfy the Questioner, indeed you will: quite soon. We shan't hurry the enquiry."
"the Questioner", I'm not sure if Grishnakh is calling Sauron that, or one of the Nazgul. I'm inclined to say it's a title for the Nazgul who got information out of Gollum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WCH
Now, how on earth did Ugluk know so much? And how does that color his response to Grishnakh?
That is indeed interesting. It's way too late for me to think more about this, but thanks for that tidbit!
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Old 08-28-2022, 07:34 AM   #7
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Some more ideas...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Form
I think there's a tendency to think of Mordor as a secretive society, partly because we know so little about it and partly because to the good guys the Ring (and what they're doing with it) is a great and terrible secret, but we don't actually know what is secret and what is public in Mordor. In a "panopticon" sort of way, I wonder if things might have been more dreadfully public than we think.
Quite true. It's possible Gollum once having something important to Sauron for the War, captured and "escape" was common gossip among the rank and file in Mordor. Grishnakh sounded like he knew more than Gorbag, or Shagrat, simply because he was more intelligent. As quoted by Inzil, he refers to himself as a "messenger" - granted a "trusted messenger" but a messenger doesn't necessarily denote someone of high rank or importance. (Then again, the Mouth of Sauron is a messenger)

Some facts we do know for sure though. When Grishnakh slipped away after the fight with the Isengarders, it was to meet the Nazgul he previously said was waiting on the east bank. And presumably he informed the Nazgul that Saruman ordered his orcs to take the prisoners to Isengard. Grishnakh later rejoins Ugluk's group:

Quote:
"So you've come back?" he [Ugluk] said. "Thought better of it, eh?"
"I've returned to see that Orders are carried out and the prisoners safe," answered Grishnakh.~The Uruk-hai
This is an assumption, but I think a fair one to make based on how the events in the chapter play out, Grishnakh was ordered by the Nazgul something along the lines of...the hobbits have something important to Sauron, or have important information about its whereabouts, this can't fall into Saruman's posession, get the hobbits and bring them back here to be taken to Mordor.

Perhaps Grishnakh even knew it was a ring, if he was also involved/knew more info about Gollum's torture. Initially that made me wonder, why would an orc be trusted to know specific details (details that I don't think Gorbag and Shagrat knew)? But putting on my Nazgul cloak, it would be much better for Grishnakh to get the ring (if one of the hobbits had it) than for Saruman to get it. Because if Grishnakh got it, he either proves to be the "trusted messenger" and returns with it/or the prisoners. If he's untrustworthy, Grishnakh is far easier to be dealt with than Saruman, who Sauron (and his agents) already know to be untrustworthy.

We might not know the extent of how tightly closed Sauron keeps the lid in Mordor. But we do know he promises rewards for showing loyalty to him and proving one's worth. They might be empty promises, and deceitful, but he uses both rewards and threats to get what he wants:

Quote:
"But they shall help to rebuild Isengard which they have wantonly destroyed, and that shall be Sauron's, and there his lieutenant shall dwell: not Saruman, but one more worthy of trust."
Looking in the Messenger's eyes they read his thought. He was to be that lieutenant, and gather all that remained of the West under his sway; he would be their tyrant and they his slaves.~The Black Gate Opens
That Nazgul, most likely would do the same with ambitious orcs working under them. When Grishnakh tells Ugluk about the Nazgul, to me he sounds envious. He's "shivering and licking his lips" "savored painfully," and says Ugluk ought to know "they are the apple of the Great Eye." As if he was promised a reward to make sure the hobbits did not go to Saruman.
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Old 08-28-2022, 08:19 PM   #8
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Boromir's analysis is sound, and reasonable. I would like to add some bricks to the path as well.

Third Age 2460, Sauron returns to Dol Guldor after retreating east in 2063 when Gandalf visits due to concerns that the Necromancer (if he was known by that name at that time) is in fact Sauron. Three years later, the White Council is formed and the Ring is found and Smeagol brings it into the caves below the Misty Mountains several years later. It is not until 2850 that Gandalf re-enters Dol Guldor and learns that its master is, in fact, Sauron and that he is gathering the Rings to himself. Saruman overrules a suggested attack at that time. In 2939, Saruman learns that Sauron is staging searches of the Gladden Fields from Dol Guldor and changes his mind. In 2941, Bilbo finds the Ring, Dol Guldor is attacked and Sauron retreats.

Sauron's retreat is tactical; it is characterized as a feint. It is, in fact, a strategic error. A few years later, he returns to Mordor and shortly thereafter declares himself. By this time, the wars of Angmar are long since over and the Nazgul have resided in Mordor for over a thousand years. While it is possible that the Nazgul assisted in the searches for the Ring in Gladden Fields, it is not stated anywhere. In fact, it is stated that the Witch King vanishes from the North in 1975.

Who searched for the Ring from Dol Guldor? Unknown. Perhaps Orcs under captains hand-picked by Sauron. He has no reason to trust his own soldiers, who are likely to pocket a bauble and bolt unless carefully watched. But after Sauron's retreat to Mordor, and temporary abandonment of Dol Guldor, there is no easy staging area from which to conduct such searches. And, years later when the Nazgul, mounted upon horses, openly cross the Anduin in search of the Shire, it is considered a significant event. It's trigger? The capture and "interview" of Gollum. Sauron knows the Ring has been found. But after the flooding of the Bruinen, the Nazgul again vanish from the North.

The point of this narrative? In the absence of the Nazgul, Sauron must rely upon lesser servants to search for the Fellowship and Hobbits at a minimum. Does every Orc need to know that the target is a "ring"? No. But given the less than trustworthy nature of the Orcs, can they be trusted to give up and report every piece of jewelry they find? Again, no. So who can he trust? The Nazgul. But the Nazgul and their flying steeds are being held on the east side of the Anduin. Yet, they are his most trusted servants. So who will watch the Orcs? A captain who respects, no, fears a Nazgul and is under his direct command, influence and oversight. Grishnakh, is this captain.

I cannot believe that crucial secrets, like the existence and possible bearer of the Ring, would be widely known among Sauron's minions. I can believe that a specific Orc captain, under the direct oversight (and intimidation) of a Nazgul and fully aware that if he steps out of line, that he will answer for it, might be told what to look for and why a Hobbit is believed to have it. And Grishnakh seems to have this knowledge ("Gollum, Gollum").
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Old 08-30-2022, 04:02 AM   #9
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I agree to most of what Mithadan told, but I think that Grishnakh is not under the order of a or the NazgŻl (or not more than a lower rank officer would be to a general of another department of an army). Considering what would happen if he got hold of the Ring, it is much more likely that he is trusted by Sauron himself.
An orc-comander as smart as Grishnakh using the Ring would be a danger for the NazŻgl themself: He could - in a way - comand them.

In contrast we might understand Grishnakh's "trusted messanger" as trsuted by Sauron himself: We have learned that for the NazgŻl there was no doubt who was the Master of the Ring - even so they were mighty among the servants of Sauron, they could not withheld the Ring from him, if they got hold of it - or at least that was the believe of our narrartors (real or feigned) and Sauron himself. With the NazgŻl the obivous reason is that Sauron held the Nine to which the NazgŻl were slaves fare more direct then to the One. But if Sauron could bring other underlings to the same beleive that the One would not help them in a rebellion against him, they would be really trustworthy messangers. And the behavior of 'the West' would give more credit to such a believe: Why in the view point of an Orc shouldn't the Wiese us the One, if it would help them against Sauron? So for Grishnakh it might seem that only Sauron could make any use of the One Ring and that his best option would be to deliver it to him and profit from his 'thankfullness'. And as with every good lie their is a spark of truth at its core: As we read in the letter with the alternative endings, the full potential of the One Ring could really only be used by Sauron or a very might opponent that was or became as corrupted as Sauron himself.

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Old 08-30-2022, 03:48 PM   #10
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We do know that Sauron himself sent out "his Orc-captain Grishnakh"; and he did this as a direct response to bird messages that reached Barad-dur from Moria, telling of the Company's escape and the fact that hobbits and Gandalf were there.

This was the last positive fix Sauron ever had on the Ring's whereabouts.

However, throughout this period we know that Sauron relayed orders to Grishnakh via Nazgul- and Grishnakh certainly feared them. Could he have commanded them if he had the Ring? Not likely- see Letter 246. Their primary bondage was to their own Rings, which Sauron held.
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Old 08-31-2022, 03:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
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Add this tidbit, from the Chronology: Ugluk and his band, long before G ever showed up, had captured Gollum lurking on the borders of Lorien, and Questioned him. Not only that, but here's the interesting part- from this Ugluk was able to deduce that the Ring had been present. And still more interesting, this last bit of crucial info he elects NOT to include in his report to Orthanc.

Now, how on earth did Ugluk know so much? And how does that color his response to Grishnakh?
Going back to this if I may. Saruman had a habit of accusing Gandalf and others of crimes he was guilty of himself. I like to think of him as a master of projection. Perhaps Saruman's projecting rubbed off on his captains.
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Old 08-31-2022, 04:25 AM   #12
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Could he have commanded them if he had the Ring? Not likely- see Letter 246. Their primary bondage was to their own Rings, which Sauron held.
That is why I wrote 'in a way'. As specified in that letter in the case of Frodo, the NazgŻl would not have attacked him directly, and they would have tried to follow his commands at least seemingly to trick him into some trap. But such a situation would have been anythink else than idael for the NazgŻl.

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