The high elves were once a significant force on the continent, but in recent times their numbers have been dramatically reduced. 90% of their race was slaughtered in the Second and Third Wars. ( Following this, another 90% of the survivors changed their name to " )blood elves" in remembrance of their fallen brethren, and no longer consider themselves high elven.
The few who remain cling to the Alliance, and are scattered among various cities where they are a clear minority.
Exile of the Highborne
When the night elves adopted druidism, they outlawed the practice of arcane magic. The use of its dangerous powers would be punishable by death. However, many Highborne loyalists of Queen Azshara survived the Sundering and grew restless. They suffered from magical withdrawal, and 7,300 years before the invasion of the old Horde through the Dark Portal, they spoke against Malfurion Stormrage and the Druids.
Dath'Remar Sunstrider, the leader of this movement, declared the druids cowards for refusing to wield the arcane. Furion and the druids warned the Highborne that any use of magic would be punishable by death. Yet in an attempt to protest the druid’s law, Dath'Remar and his followers unleashed a terrible magical storm upon Ashenvale. The druids could not bring themselves to put so many of their kin to death, so they decided to exile the reckless Highborne from their lands. Sunstrider and his followers boarded a number of specially crafted ships and set sail upon the seas. By now the Highborne were glad to be rid of their conservative cousins and free to practice the arcane with impunity.
None knew what lay beyond the Maelstrom, but they eventually found the Eastern Kingdoms and formed their own magical realm. They abandoned the concepts of Elune and nocturnal activity, embracing the sun instead. They would soon become known as the high elves.
Foundation of Quel’Thalas
Sunstrider led the high elven fleets across the world for many long years. Their goal was to find places of considerable ley power for them to build their new homeland. After landing on the Lordaeron continent, they moved inland and formed a settlement in the Tirisfal Glades. After a few years, however, many were driven insane. The belief at the time was that something evil slept beneath the Glades, so the high elves abandoned the region and moved northwards.
Around this time, they had become completely severed from the life-giving energy of the Well of Eternity. This meant that they were no longer immortal and were vulnerable to the elements. They had shrunk in height and their skin had become a peach hue similar to most dwarves and humans. The high elves soon discovered primitive humans, but associated little with them. The Forest Trolls of Zul’Aman, under the Amani Empire, posed the greater threat to their society. The elves soon grew to hate the Forest Trolls and they fought each other whenever they met.
After many more years, the high elves discovered a land in the northern forests which suited them, and founded the kingdom of Quel’Thalas. Unfortunately, they would learn that Quel’Thalas was founded on a sacred and ancient troll city. The Trolls began to attack the elven settlements en masse in retaliation. Although the Amani outnumbered them ten to one, the elves utilized magic to its fullest effect and defeated the trolls.
Some elves, wary of the Kaldorei’s warnings, created a protective barrier around Quel’Thalas which allowed them to continue their magic without attracting the Burning Legion’s attention. To do this, they employed a series of monolithic Runestones.
Soon, Quel’Thalas became a shining monument to high elven prowess. It was crafted in the same style as the halls of Kalimdor, with the addition of integrated magic and a lighter colour scheme. Although they did not worship it, a great respect was maintained for nature. The high elves were careful to interweave their cities and architecture with their natural surroundings, creating a truly beautiful and tranquil land.
To sate their hunger for great magical power, the high elves created the Sunwell. It became the source of their power as the Well of Eternity had been in Kalimdor, although the Sunwell was much weaker, and the elves were forewarned of the dangers. As the high elves became more powerful, they cast an enchantment on the forests that bathed Quel'Thalas in eternal springtime, in defiance of the kingdom's location on the extreme north of the continent. From that point on, all high elves had access to the Sunwell's powers from anywhere on Azeroth. Over time, the high elves came to regard the Sunwell's waters as holy.
New World Patterns and the Thalassian Kingdom
For nearly four thousand years, the high elves remained relatively at peace. But while the elves established their nation, the Amani plotted their next assault. 2,800 years before the First War, they unleashed it upon the high elves. The Troll Wars ignited. Suffering loss after loss, the high elves turned to the humans of Arathor for support. The two formed a military alliance in exchange for the instruction of 100 humans in arcane magic. Together, they crushed the Amani; an empire that had endured for more than twenty thousand years. Humans and high elves have cultivated this alliance ever since.
The high elves also established relations with the Ironforge Dwarves to the far south, when the human nations of Gilneas and Alterac encountered them more than a thousand years later. The two races had no special bond and tended to distrust one another. When allied, it was through their common ties to the humans.
Yet 230 years before the First War, the Dwarven race split into three factions (See War of the Three Hammers). The Wildhammers desired to open up trade with the high elves, considered taboo at the time, and would serve as one of the catalysts for their war. ( When it ended, the clan became close allies to the high elves. The two races were united through a mutual appreciation for nature and other cultural similarities. ) ( They would soon become each other’s closest friends within )the alliance.
War and the Fall of Quel’Thalas
Peace in Quel’Thalas continued for almost three thousand years until the Second War. The Orcish Horde came through a portal from the world of Draenor at the advent of the First War, and defeated the Kingdom of Stormwind. They then brought Ogres into Azeroth, and allied with the Goblins and Forest Trolls, turning their sights on the north.
When the humans proposed an alliance of their seven nations, the Wildhammer and Ironforge dwarves, the gnomes and the high elves, the elves were honour-bound to join it due to their ancestral connection with Arathi, of whom Anduin Lothar was the last pure-blooded scion. Under Anasterian Sunstrider, they were the least enthusiastic of the alliance and only put forth only a token army.
However, the orcs' northern campaign managed to burn down the borderlands of Quel’Thalas, slaughtering many high elves in the process, and corrupting the Runestone at Caer Darrow. This enraged Silvermoon, which promptly pledged its full support to the war. The Horde eventually splintered under internal political pressure, and the Alliance charged southwards to crush it. The Second War was won.
In the aftermath, some high elves blamed the human’s poor leadership for the burning of their forests. King Terenas of Lordaeron reminded them that nothing of Quel’Thalas would have remained if not for the hundreds of humans that gave their lives to defend it, but nevertheless, the high elves largely abandoned the Alliance. Alleria Windrunnner and a cadre of her elven rangers remained loyal to Alliance High Command, but they were eventually lost on the other side of the Dark Portal. Her sister Vereesa also advocated continued support to the Alliance after the Grim Batol incident, but Anasterian was not swayed.
It should be noted that although the high elves retreated from the Alliance, a large number of them remained in Dalaran and were loyal to the Alliance through the Kirin Tor.
Years later, the Scourge came forth. Its commander, Arthas Menethil, obliterated the leading nation of Lordaeron and then turned their sights on Quel’Thalas. Their goal was to revive a human man named Kel'Thuzad, who could summon the demon-lord Archimonde into Azeroth. To do this, they required a source of considerable ley magic, and chose the Sunwell.
The high elves were still recovering from their grievous injuries at the hands of the Horde, but faced the Scourge in battle regardless. This time, there would be no human army to rescue them. The high elven army, lead by the Ranger General Sylvanas Windrunner, was eradicated.
The Sunwell was used to resurrect Kel'Thuzad, and fouled with evil in the process. The Scourge then set about to commit genocide on a massive scale. By the time they had left the forests, not a single living elf remained in Quel’Thalas. The Kingdom was gone.
Soon, Dalaran, with the second greatest concentration of high elves, was destroyed as well.
The remaining elves throughout the continent were scattered and clung to the Alliance for protection. A large amount left with Jaina Proudmoore to form the state of Theramore in Kalimdor, before the destruction of Quel'Thalas. They take two out of the seven seats on the ruling council that advises Lady Jaina and play a key role in the governing of the city-state. Occasionally, ships have come from[Lordaeron bringing more of their people to the diverse city.Also, a unit of high elven rangers under command of Ranger Captain Fellari Swiftarrow battled against the undead under command of the zealous Scarlet Crusade, and a large statue in honor of their capable leader has been erected in the Scarlet Monastery.
The high elves of the Plaguelands, the region of former Lordaeron and southwestern Quel'Thalas, founded a social and political movement under Prince Kael'thas. They renamed themselves blood elves, allied themselves to the Naga and Illidan, then accepted demonic magic in its darkest form, willingly to sate their magical addiction. The blood elves have actively converted high elves to their cause, and base themselves in Outland. The two factions of the high elven race are split by their differences, and deeply hostile to one another to this day.
Some of the alliance high elves are known as the Silvermoon Remnant.
-See also origin of the races.
The Lands of Conflict RPG book(a sourcebook that takes place several years before the World of Warcraft MMO), states that the high elven population is approximately 24,810 and the half-elven population is approximately 9,550, not including Theramore, Dalaran, and several less significant cities. Stormwind(pop. 200,000)alone has the most, with a total of 20,000 high elves, and 8000 half elves. However it is also possible that population of Stormwind was a typo, and was instead meant to be only 20,000. If so then it lowers the population numbers down to 6,810 high elves in eastern lands and 2,350 half elves.
When Kael'Thas founded the blood elves, approximately 90% of the surviving high elven population left and joined his cause. Since then the blood elves have presumably converted more to their side, reducing high elven power to an extreme low.
High elves and goblins are the only races available in the World of Warcraft Core RPG book but not in the World of Warcraft MMORPG.
- Bear's Head, Azshara
- Wizard's Sanctum, Stormwind
- 1 high elf - Elsharin
- Stormwind Keep, Stormwind
- 1 high elf - Caledra Dawnbreeze
- Farstrider Lodge, Loch Modan
- 1 high elf - Vyrin Swiftwind
- Ratchet, the Barrens
- 1 high elf - Captain Thalo'thas Brightsun
- Northwatch Hold, The Barrens
- 1 high elf - Gilthares Firebough
- Theramore Isle, Dustwallow Marsh
- 1 high elf - Fiora Longears
- North Point Tower and near Brackenwall Village, Dustwallow Marsh
- About 12 high elves, most of which are hidden
- Quel'Danil Lodge, the Hinterlands
- 46 high elves, including Gilveradin Sunchaser
- Quel'Lithien Lodge, Eastern Plaguelands
- A number of high elves are members of the Cult of the Dark Strand.
The high elves are taller and slimmer than humans, being over 6 feet in height on average and weighing 100-175 pounds. They have white to flaxen colored hair and skin, with brilliantly intense coloured eyes that seem to glow with an inner light. While many high elves have blue or green eyes, violet and red are not unheard of. They reach adulthood at 110 years, and can live up to 2,000 years before dying of old age. () Most high elves do not wear red or black for fear of be mistaken as Blood Elves. ( The high elves have shorter ears and a much smaller and lighter body than )night elves.
Typical high elves have long blonde, white or brown hair and brilliant blue or green eyes. Their skin, in comparison to blood elves is slightly more pale.
Note that although blood elves show some physical differences compared to high elves blood elves and high elves are exactly the same physical race in terms of biology. However, in the Warcraft RPG they are considered seperate races more by culture differences, than because of any physical differences. ( In the first use of the term "race" it may be equivocation of the definition of the term "species". )
It would not quite be correct to say that the high elves rejoined the Alliance. To many high elves, they never left. For comparison, if China was utterly destroyed, there would still be many Chinese Americans, Canadians, Australians, French, South Africans, Germans, etc. Unlike the blood elves, the high elves don’t exist as a nation, only a race.
Nevertheless, they are often aloof and distant from their allies. They keep to themselves and enjoy wandering forests alone or in small groups. They also maintain the Quel'Danil lodge, an outpost in the Hinterlands which pursues their diplomatic interests and Quel'Lithien in the Eastern Plaguelands near the gateway to ruined Quel'Thalas.
High elves in Stormwind copy the humans' style of long-sleeved tunics, billowy trousers and leather boots. Many High elves avoid wearing red clothing, as to dissociate themselves from blood elves. They have also set aside a day of mourning for high elves to remember the destruction of Dalaran with their human friends.
High elves were once strong worshipers of the Holy Light, but this has died down as many have rejected it in favour of arcane magic. Although most still follow The Light, they do so loosely and are much less devout than humanity. High elven Priests are common. The high elves have made significant contributions to this evolving religion, which originated from human cults. Even a few high elves have become paladins, though this is rare. (. )
All high elves, regardless of class, status or upbringing, are addicted to magic, and all have some small proficiency in it. Unlike blood elves who succumb to it, high elves actively fight their addiction and are required to meditate at least an hour every day to maintain personal control. The high elves are not proud of this addiction, and take pains to keep it a secret. Being close to Moon Wells will satiate the addiction, as will the use of certain magical items.
If a high elf resorts to feeding off something else to sate the addiction, then they cross the line from high elf to blood elf. Contrary to popular belief, magical addiction is not fatal in and of itself (the only elves who have actually died from withdrawal were either elderly, very young, or already ill). 
The high elves of Theramore are perhaps the most isolated. Having left mostly before the destruction of Dalaran and Quel’Thalas, they have formed a significant community in the city. They spend a great deal of time hunting the few Undead forces in Kalimdor. Their exposure to the night elves has caused them to develop a great interest in Moon Wells, which they seek to find an alternative solution to their addiction. Even the presence of a hidden Moon Well 50 feet away is enough to replenish their mystical energies and makes meditation unnecessary.
Theramore high elves also have another interest in the continent. They have discussed privately the creation of their own realm on Kalimdor. The northern forests, full of moon wells and lush greenery are most attractive, but their control by the Night Elves is overly frustrating. High elven expeditions, claiming to be tracking undead, often search for suitable sites.
High Elven Relations
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- High elves are closest friends with the Wildhammer dwarves, with whom they share a respect for the wilds, and carry a long history of good relations and trust.
- Second to the Wildhammers are the humans, with whom the high elves long have been allies both in times of peace and of war.
- Although physically disparate, gnomes share the elves' natural affinity to magic, and many gnomes and high elves used to work together in Dalaran before its fall.
- High elves have an awkward and somewhat distrustful relationship with the Ironforge dwarves, but they do rely on each other in times of war, and have common ties to the Alliance.
- High elves are often prejudiced towards half-elves, though this is starting to change as their presence are becoming more common (see the half-elf article for more on this).
- High elves get along quite poorly with night elves, with whom they have had an (understandably) turbulent past, and who do not share their views of arcane magic.
- Although having little to no historical contact with the tauren, high elves are not forgiving of their union with the Horde.
- High Elves loathe the rest of the Horde, having a history of bloodshed by trolls, orcs, and undead alike.
- They are utterly disgusted by the actions to which the blood elves have resorted.
High elves are proficient in archery, divine and arcane magic, as well as swordsmanship. They use guard towers for defense, and their armies take advantage of their natural strengths and typically serve supporting roles when working with other races. The high elves had a special affinity with dragonhawks before the Scourge attacked Quel'Thalas. The dragonhawks would often serve as flying mounts for the elves, but since the high elves abandoned their homeland, they have had to live without these creatures, who remain in the hands of the blood elves. High elven arcane magic focuses on frost and arcane magic, and they shun and loathe those who practice demonic magic.