On Varian's temper and restraint
Varian is often said to be "emo," or to have a lack of restraint or a violent temper. First of all, given all of the events outlined in the previous parts of this article, it's hard to call him unjustified. Secondly, he has in actuality, shown a great amount of restraint, civility, and wisdom in his dealings with the Horde until recently.
Varian has actually tried, in good faith, to participate in Peace talks with the Horde. When he was first captured and enslaved by Rethgar Earthfury, one of Thrall's most trusted advisers, he was on his way to a peace conference. When he regained his throne, he agreed to attend that same peace conference
(This is depicted in the Warcraft comic series).
Thrall walked into that Peace conference wielding the symbols of Office of Orgrim Doomhammer, the man who killed Anduin Lothar, and Varian abode. Thrall walked into that Peace conference alongside Rethgar Earthfury, an Orc who participated in a massive slave ring that enslaved Alliance citizens and forced them to fight to the Death, an Orc who had enslaved Varian himself in this manner, and Varian abode. Despite the injustices heaped on him, Varian was willing to talk peace after all.
What broke the camel's back was a scenario that was tailor made to evoke his first encounter with the Horde. Garona, the same assassin who killed his father under the auspices of the Horde, came to finish the job. Given the setup, it was hardly a massive leap of logic for Varian to assume the Horde was behind it again. He may have been wrong in this case, but the circumstantial evidence for it was not insignificant. If the Horde used Garona to kill his father, it's not much of a leap to think the same Horde might be looking to kill him as well.
Again during the Ulduar Cinematic
, while Varian did not appreciate Thrall's presence, he did not immediately teleport away. It was Garrosh who escalated, insulting Varian and his people to his face. Even then, when Varian challenged him, he did not take the first strike. That was Garrosh. Varian, despite all the injustices heaped upon him and his people, did not completely rule out dealing with the Horde until Garrosh attacked him viciously while Thrall stood by impotently.
Far from having an uncontrollable temper, Varian Wrynn has acted with relative restraint and calm. He has simply finally been pushed too far by a Horde that has rebuffed his every attempt to understand them. On the "Yes, But..." Arguments
There are many Horde Apologists who will, upon hearing some of the above arguments, admit that the Horde may not be the best of neighbors to the Alliance at times. However, many of them then follow this admittance up with a "But."
There are two major "Buts." The first is that Thrall is working for peace even if the Horde is sometimes rowdy. The second is that the Horde and the Alliance must unite to face larger enemies, or everyone will die, and any Horde or Alliance wars should be put off until then.
Again, events suggest that neither excuse really stands up. Thrall has talked, but has taken very little legitimate action to stop the onslaught of the Horde. He has not attempted to withdraw the Warsong Clan from Ashenvale, nor did he monitor his allies, not balking at the torture and imprisonment of Mu'ru (whether that was destined or not, it was still morally reprehensible for the Blood Elves to have done it) or the actions of the Forsaken in Northern Lordaeron and Ashenvale, where they killed and enslaved the spirits of innocent sleeping Druids.
He has also apparently not done anything significant to stop the spread of Slavery in the Horde, and the organization that enslaved Varian has a base in Orgrimmar
where they even keep stolen Alliance artifacts such as the belt of Lothar. In fact, one of the greatest patrons of the organization, Rethgar Earthfury, is now one of Thrall's most trusted advisers. Contrast this to the Alliance's now-defunct gladiator system as depicted in Arthas
: Blackmoore was kept under careful watch and was not trusted by Tereneas or Arthas, and Thrall was revealed to be the only slave gladiator, the others all voluntarily fighting for fame and glory, and only rarely to the death if at all.
Thrall is ostensibly trying to teach his people to have pride in themselves and their heritage, but the heritage he is offering is still stained in the trappings of the old genocidal Horde, such as their honoring of bloodlust and war criminals such as Grom and Orgrim (Whom Thrall even evokes at the end of the Battle of the Undercity. When Thrall asks how Grom and Orgrim would react at these events, all I can think is that they'd join Garrosh in calling for all out battle on the Alliance, if their past actions are any indication).
When his people take these ideals too far, which is very easy to do and happens very often, Thrall is silent. For example, He has done nothing to reign in Garrosh aside from one aborted duel that Garrosh was close to winning. Garrosh has sabotaged peace with the Alliance at every possible opportunity, even before the events of the Wrathgate, and afterwards, has continued to prod and provoke. Saurfang is forced to counter what he can of Garrosh's recklessness in secret. In short, Thrall is silent on the crimes of his people. The Alliance and Varian have every right to see him as a Hypocrite. "Yes, But" and Putting Aside Differences
The other "Yes, But" argument is that the Horde and the Alliance should put aside their differences to fight the larger challenges. The problem with that is that asking the Alliance to ally with the Horde is, at the moment, essentially identical to asking them to ally with the Twilight's Hammer, the Scarlet Crusade, or the Blackrock Orcs. The Horde has dedicated themselves to fighting and wiping out the Alliance in nearly every corner of Azeroth once again. Even when the Alliance tries to focus their attacks on the "real" threats, the Horde stabs them in the back, such as at the Broken Front, where the Horde Warriors proudly boast of ambushing and killing the Alliance as they fought the Scourge.
In Northern Lordaeron, in Northrend, and in Ashenvale, the RAS is clearly dedicated to destroying the Alliance, killing them by poisoning. Their stated intent is the wiping out of all life. The Warsong clan is dedicated to "taming" Ashenvale, and will kill as many Night Elves as they need to to do it. These are no longer minor skirmishes or disagreements, if they ever were. The Alliance body count in skirmishes with the Horde rises by the day, and most of these skirmishes are Horde-instigated, and happened before the Wrathgate.
To say the Alliance should simply let bygones be bygones does not work, especially after the Broken Front. The Horde have proven that they will strike at any time, and will do their best to destroy the Alliance. The Scourge or the Burning Legion or Malygos may destroy Azeroth, but the Horde will destroy the Alliance. Either way the end result for the members of the Alliance is the same - they have died painfully and gone extinct as a race. There is very little incentive for the Alliance to declare peace anymore, and I have yet to hear Rhonin, Jaina, or anyone else in favor of "peace" give a solid enough answer that Varian should be expected to listen to. On the Future
In short, painting Varian as an "emo" or an irrational grudge holder is a very simplistic view that ignores the repeated and unwarranted aggression the Horde, both the "Old" and "New" versions, have shown to the Alliance. At this point, it is obvious to me that Varian is not declaring a new war against the Horde as much as he is finally committing the Alliance to the one that is already there, fighting back against the Horde in a way no other Alliance leader has so far.
I do not believe that Blizzard's Lore team is ignorant of the things I have outlined above, nor do I believe Varian is headed to a career as an unforgivable Villain, at least not because of the current Horde-Alliance conflict. This one is actually pretty well justified.
But here is what I believe needs to happen:
Thrall either needs to find his backbone, or step aside. Garrosh will continue to flex his power, and he will continue to attract followers who believe in the Bloody, Proud, arrogant Horde that Thrall has inadvertently fostered through misplaced hero worship of the War criminals and symbols of the Old Horde. Saurfang, who speaks out against arrogance and has repeatedly expressed his regret for the crimes his people committed in the first and second wars, but still carries an air of nobility and fierceness, should be the true new model for the Horde.
In fact, Saurfang should be the leader of the New Horde if Thrall doesn't clean up his act, and fast. If Thrall does clean up his act and depose Garrosh, insist Sylvanas disband the RAS and stop any biological warfare programs, and pull out of Ashenvale, he should still use Saurfang's attitude as the new target for the Orcish outlook on life.
Varian himself will continue to lead the Alliance successfully, and will gain some solid victories against the Horde. He will perhaps see some examples of noble Horde who properly understand the tragic history of the Orcs, and learn to respect them. Perhaps the Orc will be Saurfang himself.
At this point, Thrall should hopefully be ready to repent. If Thrall genuinely comes in peace and offers legitimate concessions to the Alliance, I believe Varian will be able to talk peace legitimately. But at this point, the Horde has committed far too many crimes for them to demand anything approaching equal terms or status quo antebellum.
If nothing else, it will teach the Horde a valuable lesson in humility.
Of course, Blizzard's Lore Team generally manages to surprise, sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not so pleasantly. But at this point, I do think the Horde and Alliance conflict is playing out this way for a reason, and in the end, I believe Varian will be a legitimate hero of the Alliance, and a legitimate "Good Guy." His reputation in the current conflict among much of the player base is far from deserved, and I encourage everyone to think about it and understand that he has a very solid outlay of reasons to be fed up with the Horde, and he's given them more than a fair shake all told.
Varian Wrynn is right, and unless Thrall grows a backbone soon, the Horde is headed right back into their old ways.