Abridged Guide to Evil Wikia
"Of course I don’t step on people’s throats using my own heels. Have you seen how gorgeous these boots are? I’m not getting blood on these beauties: it takes at least two princes to get the right amount of skin, and duke leather just isn’t the same."
―Dread Emperor Nihilis I, the Tanner[1]

Nihilis the First, also known as the Tanner, was a former Dread Emperor of Praes, reigning for over ten years towards the end of the Sixty Years War, around 700 AD.[2]


He climbed the Tower and became a Dread Emperor at seventeen, presumably after his predecessor perished in the Sixty Years War, waged against the Kingdom of Callow.[2] As a Tyrant he retreated to the Blessed Isle and the war concluded without a formal treaty being signed.[3]

In Praes, he faced and defeated the Fourth Goblin Rebellion. The goblin matrons who refused to surrender were fashioned into his cloak.[4][5] Black remarks that Nihilis failed to rebuild the Empire after the ruinous war and that he was followed by “a hundred years of murderous mediocrity”.[3]

He’s known as the Tanner due to skinning and fashioning clothes out of his enemies. Those included (presumably Callowan) dukes, princes and goblin matrons.[1][5] He banned the 'Tyranny of the Sun', a Praesi song written in the latter stages of the Sixty Years War.[6]

The cause of his death is unknown, though his Chancellor did try to assassinate him.[2] Dread Emperor Vindictive I was presumably his predecessor, given that Warlock Kayode Owusu served under both (assuming it’s Nihilis I that's referred to in the quotes).[7][8]


“I am told awe is made half of reverence and half of fear. Let us find out, knights of the Callow, if terror alone will be enough to teach it to the likes of you.”
– Dread Emperor Nihilis I, the Tanner[9]

“An offer to ‘kneel or die’ would be insincere, Matrons. Deny me and your corpses will be made to kneel anyway, as I have a chorus of your children scream a cheerful tune.”
– Dread Emperor Nihilis I, the Tanner, negotiating the end of the Fourth Goblin Rebellion[4]

“I climbed the Tower at seventeen, Chancellor, and for ten years I have held it. So before you bare your knife at my back, ask yourself this – would you really be the first to try?”
– Dread Emperor Nihilis I, the Tanner[2]

“By my own hand I have made my enemies, and so own them just as a craftsman owns his craft.”
– Dread Emperor Nihilis I, the Tanner[10]


  • He created what is nowadays knows as a Nihilis Report, an imperial form for killing Praesi bureaucrats. It needs to be filled in triplicate.[11]
  • Akua once mentions that “Attention to ironic detail is the difference between a Triumphant and a Nihilis”.[12]