It started out as a safe haven for those refugees who escaped the Scourge and Arthas only to find themselves in a new land, surrounded by enemies and forced to fight alongside the orcish Horde against the Burning Legion. Theramore weathered the schism between Jaina Proudmore and her father, High Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, and the invasion of Horde forces under Rexxar that led to the Admiral's death.
Things were hardly quiet in Theramore after those events. Surrounded by hostile swamps, bordered by Horde forces in the Barrens to the north and west and Thousand Needles to the south, and forced to deal with Grimtotem marauders attempting to provoke a full-scale war with the Horde, life in Theramore was never easy. The revelation of the fate of Stormwind and its rise to prominence in the new Alliance that established itself following the Third War put Theramore in a strange position -- closest to their new night elf allies in Kalimdor and a safe port for Alliance vessels in otherwise Horde territory on Kalimdor's eastern coast, yet ever increasingly marginalized in the councils of the Alliance leadership.
Meanwhile, Jaina's leadership and her desire for peace with the Horde was under strain, both from the more aggressively militant stance Varian Wrynn took upon his return to Stormwind (a return Jaina helped bring about) and from those members of her own settlement that were loyal not to her ideals but those of her deceased father Daelin Proudmoore.
A last, best hope
Yet it must be said that Theramore carved a place for humans out of a dismal swamp and was on the way to overcoming the hardships that led the people of the city to found it in the first place. Escapees and refugees from Lordaeron and the other human kingdoms destroyed by the Scourge under Arthas and held by the Forsaken under Sylvanas, Theramore was the living descendent of the once great kingdom that held most of the north of the Eastern Kingdoms. Its destruction is more than simply an act of war; it brings an end to that kingdom's history. It ends all we had left, not only of Lordaeron but of Kul Tiras as well, as no one has seen or heard from the island nation since before Daelin's death.
Theramore was born out of the death of Lordaeron and the encounter Jaina Proudmore and her mentor Antonidas had with Medivh, known to them only as the Prophet. Medivh's argument that Lordaeron could not be saved convinced Jaina, who in her conviction took the naval forces she could commandeer and as many people as possible and sailed west, arriving in Kalimdor.
It was this group of hardened military and refugees that were the nucleus around which Theramore would grow. This group consisted of Kul Tiras sailors (the crews of the vessels), Gilnean military sent by Darius Crowley (the Gilneas Brigade), and soldiers from Stromgarde and Lordaeron proper, meaning that Theramore had roots in four of the original seven kingdoms of humanity.
After the war, more war
After the war with the Legion, Jaina had no immediate knowledge of the fate of the Eastern Kingdoms or Arthas. For all she knew, the demons had destroyed all of humanity, and the people she'd led to Kalimdor were the last of their kind. She made the decision to stay and settle in Kalimdor, founding Theramore on an island just off the coast of Dustwallow Marsh. Theramore began life as a fortification, which was sensible due to its position in a hostile new land that was still mostly unexplored by humanity. The orcs settled to the north, quickly taking both the new land of Durotar and The Barrens as their own.
While Jaina and Thrall seemed to bear a personal respect and friendship that led to each of them trying to keep the peace between their people, those people did not share it. The orcs under Thrall's command still bore animosity toward humans for the refugee camps and generally despised humans as weak and easily pushed aside, while the humans for their part remembered the Horde attacks of the First and Second War.
When Daelin Proudmoore arrived off the shores of Durotar with the remaining Kul Tiras fleet, he did not find it very difficult to convince most of Theramore that he was right, that the Horde could not be trusted. He imprisoned Jaina and took control of the city, and it was his actions that ultimately led to Rexxar and Thrall's assault upon the city, an assault that led to his death. Jaina's opposition to her father, which went so far as to assist the Horde in their assault upon him, spared Theramore his fate. The Keep was damaged but not destroyed by their attack, quickly rebuilt following their assault.
Less central but more necessary
It was in the aftermath of these events that Jaina learned that humanity had survived in the Eastern Kingdoms. The majority of humans had escaped the Scourge and Arthas to retreat south through Khaz Modan, finally arriving in Stormwind, which sheltered them as they had once sheltered the people of Stormwind following the First War. Stormwind, more than Theramore or even the Undercity, is where the majority of the people of Lordaeron would now reside.
Still, Theramore gained importance from this discovery, as the existence of the last remaining human nation meant that a new Alliance could be created. Theramore, as the seat of human power in Kalimdor, became a very important port as well as a signatory to the Alliance that included the dwarves, gnomes and night elves. Yet this very importance put Theramore in jeopardy. Many of its best troops formed the nucleus of the 7th Legion and left Theramore to go fight for the Alliance across the world, while the settlement itself remains the strongest Alliance port on the eastern coast of Kalimdor. Its position was always precarious.
Seeds of the fall
While Jaina worked to root out those who secretly sought to bring about war with the Horde and dealt with a Defias presence in her city, Theramore was simply too important to sit out the rising hostility between the Alliance and the Horde. While Jaina was distracted by the return of Arthas and the campaign to defeat the Lich King, as well as its aftermath and the final death of the first man she'd loved, new Warchief Garrosh Hellscream began moving into Ashenvale and Stonetalon in force.
In order to bolster their night elf allies in those lands, the Alliance moved into the Southern Barrens in force to construct a trade route, displacing former Horde settlements. It was from Theramore that they moved. This made the place a target.
Perhaps its fate was inevitable. No longer the last bastion for the survivors -- not even the place with the most refugees from those former kingdoms -- and with Gilneas and the Gilneans revealed as cursed worgen, Theramore's symbolic value was greater than its actual role as a last refuge.
But its destruction seems a miscalculation by the Horde. Theramore was the spiritual home to the 7th Legion, born out of the various forces led by Jaina to Kalimdor. It bore incredible symbolism as the place founded by those humans who tried to work alongside the orcs, and its fate seems to say "Here is what comes of trusting orcs" to all those who witness it.
If Theramore was the last, best hope for peace, its destruction seals that hope away for a generation. And if Jaina, once the greatest advocate for that peace, is not only turned away from that path but is now the designated head of the Kirin Tor, that body's neutrality may also be tested in times to come. The destruction of Theramore changes the world even more aggressively than its foundation did.
It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!