TSATHOGGUA

Real Name: Tsathoggua

Identity/Class: Extra-Dimensional Demon

Occupation: Deity of the savage Tcho-Tcho, Guardian of the Cobra Crown

Group Membership: Old Ones

Affiliations: Great Cthulhu, Old Ones, Set and the Serpent Men (all allies), the Tcho-Tcho tribesmen (worshippers), Thulandra Thuu (invoked him for power)

Enemies: Conan the Barbarian, Varnae the Vampire (false god)

Known Relatives: Great Cthulhu (referred to in passages from the Necronomicon and the Book of Eibon as Tsathoggua’s nephew), Hziulquiogmnzhah (uncle)

Aliases: the Toad God, Seven Eyed Tsathoggua

Base of Operations: formerly Saturn, and later Subterranea then the Nameless Isle of the Hyborian Age;
current whereabouts unknown.

First Appearance: "Door to Saturn", 1932;
(In the Marvel Universe) Savage Sword of Conan#40 (as a living stone idol, May, 1979)

Powers: Tsathoggua has the power to travel between dimensions and the power to survive and move through the vacuum of outer space faster than light. What other powers Tsathoggua has are uncertain but it is safe to assume they are on a par with other inhuman Elder Gods such as Cthulhu, Chthon, and Set. It is hinted at in the Necronomicon and the Book of Eibon (and perhaps in the Book of Skelos as a copy of it was found at the feet of an idol to Tsathoggua) that rites involving human sacrifice and cannibalism were performed in worship of Tsathoggua. Tsathoggua’s idol moved with inhuman speed for something made of stone and was as strong as one might expect based on its composition.

History: (BTS) - Tsathoggua travels from his dimension of origin to the realms of physical matter arriving on Saturn before the rise of man on earth. Growing bored upon Saturn which is ruled by more powerful, but related beings Tsathoggua departs through space for earth. Finding the surface of the planet not to his liking Tsathoggua takes up residence in the caverns of the subterranean world beneath earth.

(BTS) - Tsathoggua forges some sort of alliance with the Elder God Set and his minions the Serpent Men. Upon the Nameless Isle, before the rise of mankind, the Serpent Men erect a black shrine to Tsathoggua and leave the Cobra Crown there guarded by a living stone idol of the Toad-God.

 

(Door to Saturn) - After an unknown ammount of time the Age of Hyperborea and man’s rise begins. The sorcerer Eibon discovers Tsathoggua lurking in unexplored caverns beneath the earth and pays him a very passing kind of worship in order to learn ancient sorcerous secrets such as how to create the door to Saturn. Fleeing persecution and torture by the priests of the Stag-Goddess Yhoundeh, Eibon (most powerful of Tsathoggua’s sorcerer-worshipers) flees via the door to Saturn, seeking refuge with Hziulquiogmnzhah, Tsathoggua’s uncle, whom he has been told to seek out.

(Savage Sword of Conan#40) - Millennia later during the Hyborian Era the Stygian sorcerer and priest of set Thoth Amon hatches a plot to usurp power in Zingara and begin a march of conquest. Two of his henchmen Menkara, another priest of Set, and Black Zarono the Corsair kidnap King Ferdrugo’s daughter follow a treasure map to the Nameless Isle. Once there they lose the kidnaped princess, but gain the Book of Skelos and a king’s ransom in gold and jewels kept in the black shrine. However they unknowingly leave behind the greatest prize of all. Conan hot on the two’s trail is exploring the black shrine when the protective spell Menkara cast to protect them as he and Zarono looted the temple wears off. The idol of Tsathoggua sensing Conan’s presence lurches to life and attacks the barbarian.

Conan engages the living idol in battle only to discover it is far stronger than he and that his sword is useless, the blade shattering on the monster’s stone skin. In dire straits Conan hatches a desperate plan. Fleeing the shrine Conan races tot he cliff where the island’s headland drops off. Conan leaps off the cliff just as the beast is about to catch him, diving into one the small but deep tidal pools below. The monster, unable to stop its charge, tumbles over the cliff and its stone body shatters against the jagged coral reefs surrounding the tidal pools below.

Swimming to shore and returning to the black shrine Conan peers into the hollow beneath where the idol to the Toad God once sat and discovers the Cobra Crown. The end of the tale of Thoth Amon’s treachery and the search for the Cobra Crown can be found in Thoth Amon’s own entry, but I suggest picking up the actual issues since it contains one of the few instances of bared breasts I‘ve ever seen in a Marvel Comic, and so has a certain novelty factor.

(Conan the Liberator / Savage Sword of Conan#52 - BTS) - Tsathoggua was invoked for power by the Lemurian sorcerer Thulandra Thuu, who then fired a bolt of magical energy.

Comments: Tsathoggua was created by science fiction and fantasy writer Clark Ashton Smith and first appeared in the story "Door to Saturn". He appeared as a living stone idol guarding the Cobra Crown in the adventure novel Conan the Buccaneer by L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter. Later this Conan story was adapted by Roy Thomas and John Buscema in the pages of SsoC.

It is unlikely the stone idol seen in Conan the Buccaneer or the comic book adaptation was actually Tsathoggua himself. The idol was a rude lumpen figure carved of grey stone set with seven glowing orange jewels for eyes, and most likely invested with a tiny fraction of Tsathoggua’s true power. The actual form of Ashton’s Tsathoggua is also rude and lumpen, but partaking of ape as well as toad, and having coarse gray hair and bat-like ears in addition to his seven eyes. This form of Tsathoggua has yet to be been seen in the Marvel Universe.

 

The story "Door to Saturn" suggests Tsathoggua either has dificulty communicating with humans or a basic inability to understand their motivations which leads to misunderstandings with possibly fatal consequences for his worshipers. Given the nature of Saturn it is likely the story either actually took place on one of Saturn’s moons or Saturn was a good deal different during the Hyperborian Era. Tsathoggua’s uncle is likely immortal and lurking around somewhere waiting for the Eternals of Titan to bump into him.

Tsathoggua is briefly mentioned in a Thor story @Marvel Comics Presents#63/4. During a confrontation with Varnae Thor learns the vampire-lord was worshiped as Tsathoggua by the Tcho-Tcho people. In all likelihood this is a similar situation to the Egyptian god Seth usurping the worship of the Elder God Set’s remaining worshipers.

Since it has not really been used as source material in the Marvel Universe it is not certain how the Hyperborean world fits in with pre-cataclysmic Atlantis and Valusia or the Hyborian Age which followed. I would place CAS’s Hyperborean world as either contemporary with Atlantis and Valusia or existing in a brief epoch between the age of King Kull and the start of Conan’s adventures. The Hyborian Age nation of Hyperborea is most likely a remnant of this epoch.

Hyperborea, used by both Robert E Howard and Clark Ashton Smith, is a Homeric reference to a land of perpetual spring and sunlight said to exist in the Far North. The name literally translated means ‘Beyond the North Wind’.

Tsathoggua’s creator Clark Ashton Smith is mentioned in the Cthulhu Mythos story "The Whisperer in Darkness" under the name Klarkash-Ton, Priest-king of Atlantis.

I have chosen to use Lovecraft's spelling of Tsathoggua since it is the version the authors of Conan the Buccaneer went with and is a little more comprehensible than Clark Ashton Smith's Zthothaqqua.

Tsathoggua's uncle is Hziulquiogmnzhah (say that five times fast!)

Door to Saturn has a 1932 date on it at the CAS Short Fiction Website. Most likely it was published in Weird Tales or another Hugo Gernsback pulp adventure publication.

Perhaps Tsathoggua is the patron deity and/or power source for the various Frog beings in the Marvel Universe, such as:
Garko the Man-Frog, the Frogs of Central Park, maybe the Toad, the Black Toad, Leap-Frog (Vincent Patilio), Leap-Frog (Lange), the Frog-Man, Frog-Man (Eugene Patilio), maybe even Grunt--he looks kind of froggy!

by Greg O'Driscoll

Clarifications: How could you really confuse that name with anyone else’s is beyond me, but to err on the side of caution - - Tsathoggua should not be confused with....


Appearances:
Savage Sword of Conan#40 (May, 1979) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)
Savage Sword of Conan#52 (May, 1980) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)


Last updated: 03/06/03

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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