Tivar Moondragon

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Registered Name: Tivar Moondragon
Resides: In Memory
Status: Fallen Star
Joined SCA: 1975
Order of Precedence
Tivar Moondragon
Tivar Moondragon Device.png
Sable, a torteau fimbriated and conjoined in fess with an increscent and a decrescent Or.

His Exellency, Master Tivar Moondragon, OP, WSA, CB, Lion of Ansteorra, Defender of the Dream

Previously Known As:

Additional Registered Heraldry:


  • Local Offices Held
  • Regional Offices Held
  • Kingdom Offices Held

Persona History:


Timeline of Activity:

(Written April 3, 2020, in response to an Ansteorran Story Corps question)

I first met the SCA over the point of a sword. Literally.

This was in March of 1975 - my residential college at Rice University was having its annual Shakespeare Fair. One of the college officers had a sister who was in the SCA, so they were invited out to add some color. At that time I was in the Rice Fencing Club and the rather battered-looking rattan-and-duct-tape swords the SCA guys were using looked awfully big and clunky compared to the foils and epees I was used to, so I didn't go over and check them out.

I had planned a choreographed duel with a friend from the fencing club, so I was wearing a sort of costume and carrying a sword. After the duel, I was wandering around the fair, when I ran across another guy from the fencing club. He challenged me, and I managed to beat him. I had just stepped back and half-jokingly said the fateful word "Next?" when this short, red-haired fellow wearing what looked like a rusty pine cone suit said "I'll fight you, what are your weapons?" I was carrying a fencing saber and had a costume dagger in my belt, so straight out of "Hamlet" I said "rapier and dagger." I drew my blades and he took a long duct-taped club and a short duct taped club and we started fighting.

We fought for a minute or two, and I quickly realized that while my fencing saber was quite a bit faster than his weapon, the blade was so flexible that he simply couldn't feel my thrusts through his scale armor. I went ahead and let him hit me, and ended up on my back in a mud puddle.

That was my introduction to the SCA.

About seven months later I went to a tournament, and was hooked. I can recall just sitting at home and grinning for several hours afterwards. I've been playing ever since.

Oh - the fellow with whom I had the choreographed duel also joined the SCA a couple of years after I did. He is now known as Don Robin of Gilwell. My opponent in the scale armor is now known as Duke Lloyd von Eaker, second king of Ansteorra. I am somewhat better with rapier and dagger these days.)

Q & A:

Back in 2019, Tivar took part in a Question and Answer session on the Legion of Swashbucklers. Herein are his responses to questions.

  • Q: Looking back on your life in the SCA, are you happy with where our Kingdom is now?
    • A: Yes, pretty much.
  • Q: Being the first, what does it feel like, putting your White Scarf on now? Does it still feel the same? Why or why not?
    • A: In a way, it does feel the same, but now there's hundreds more White Scarves out there, and it's kind of cool (and kind of scary) how well things worked out.
  • Q: Who was your favorite Cadet?
    • A: I think I'll plead the Fifth on that one. <G>
  • What do you look for in a future White Scarf?
    • A: Soldier, scholar, and courtier. They have to be a good fighter, but beyond that, they have to be knowledgable--not necessarily experts, but knowledgable--about period fighting and the culture in general, and they have to fit into the kingdom and the SCA: play by the rules, be courteous on and off the field, and do more than just fight (marshalling, or holding office, service, A&S, etc.) Joe Pointjock may be walking death on the field, but if all he does is fight, he'll never get my vote.
  • Q: What’s your best advice / insight for balancing SCA goals with mundane obligations?
    • A: I'm in a situation where my mundane obligations (I work every other weekend) put a major bite in my SCA time. I *try* (frequently unsuccessfully) to make it to at least one event a month. But I try to make it to every Tuesday fighter practice that isn't rained out. At this point, I don't really have "SCA goals" as such, or if I do, they're relatively small ones--a new doublet for Candlemas, a helm to replace my fencing mask (debuted at Queen's last month.) That sort of thing.
  • Q: What is the bighest challenge for a cadet to get his or her White Scarf?
    • A: I don't think there *is* a "biggest challenge." It's going to vary widely from cadet to cadet. One may need to work on fighting, another may need to work on comportment, somebody else may need to travel more, or wear better clothes. (I've heard all of these objections at various White Scarf meetings over the years.)

Prior Groups:


Populace Provided Information

Angelina Francesca de Nardi

I first met Tivar Moondragon at Falkenstein Castle for my first Queen's Champion. I wondered about the first White Scarf of Ansteorra as he stood there in his classic red assemble and pumpkin pants. He demeanor was quiet, dignified, and gracious. He gave me a tour of the grounds as we walked an talked for about an hour. Tivar is someone who makes your feel like you've known him for years. He is a prime example of how one would expect someone who not just recreates but lives the dream would act.

Robin of Gilwell

I technically met Chris Zakes on a Tuesday afternoon in August 1973, our first week at Rice University, when we each independently joined the Rice Fencing Club. But neither of us really remembers the other from that day.

Three days later, on Friday afternoon, I was walking home from my last class. After passing the library, I went just past the covered walkway, when I heard a voice Above me. “Hello there.”

I looked up, and he was sitting in a tree. “Why are you sitting in a tree? I asked.

“Why not?”

The logic was compelling and inescapable, and I climbed up to join him. He and I (and eventually Claire Rimlinger) spent every Friday afternoon in that tree. (He was there for four years. In my sophomore year, I started working on Friday afternoons.)

In December 1973, we fought our first duel, at midnight at the Sallyport, the last day of classes that semester.

We choreographed a few fights in the next couple of years, and basically got to know each other.

Then in 1975, we met somebody who told us about the SCA. It sounded fascinating. Chris went to an event that weekend. [I couldn’t go; I was working with the Rice Players.] He jumped in. My first contact was a baronial meeting, and I wasn’t excited by it.

So Chris (now called Tivar) got active, and soon wrote rules for fencing, then called Swashbuckling. He also started the Legion of Swashbucklers, where all the swashbucklers swore to protect the Queen, based on the Elizabethan Cult of Gloriana.

His commitment to the Legion of Swashbucklers and the Cult of Gloriana was so complete, and so iconic, that for many years, dozens of fencers repeated the oath with his exact words, “I, Tivar Moondragon, …”

Swashbuckling wasn’t popular early on. Heavy fighters complained that swashbucklers were people who wanted to be called fighters without being hit. So Tivar became a heavy fighter, and encouraged other early fencers to do the same. He didn’t keep it up, and was never awarded for it, but one of the young fencers who started fighting heavy at Tivar’s suggestion went on to become a founding Centurion. And one of Tivar’s cadets became a knight.

In a Principality split by politics, Tivar got along with everybody. He received a Queen’s Grace from Willow and a Queens Glove from Tessa. (Only people who were there then can really understand how incredible that is.) One of his rules was this. “Someone who disagrees with you is not necessarily your enemy. Someone who agrees with you is not necessarily your friend.”

When I got active in 1978, I tried to get swashbuckling started in the Steppes. The local knight marshal, Master Lloyd, was dead set against it, because nobody here could make it safe. Then I told him that Tivar and I fenced together, and his objections vanished completely.

But I still had difficulty getting people interested, until Tivar came up for a Twelfth Night, and fenced with me at fighter practice on Sunday. Suddenly I had a half dozen recruits.

By 1979, Prince Simonn and Princess Tessa established the Order of the Cavalier, for swashbucklers. There was no question at all who should be the first one, and it was Tivar. The symbol of the Order was a White Scarf worn on the left arm.

Then there was no way to make a second Cavalier, since one requirement was to be the equal of the current member(s) – and nobody was Tivar’s equal.

Soon we were a kingdom, and all principality orders but one were closed. The Cavalier was superseded by the White Scarf of Ansteorra, and it started to grow. How did we get people who were worthy enough? The second, fourth, sixth, ninth, and thirteenth White Scarves were all Tivar’s cadets.

In 1987, Outlands wanted a White Scarf order, and needed our permission to use the name. So a heraldic letter of permission to conflict was written, in the form of a treaty. Then in 1991, Trimaris wanted to join. Eventually there were 13 kingdom orders of the White Scarf.

Ansteorra wasn’t the first place to start SCA fencing, but it was the first place where it really became accepted, and it’s the birthplace of the White Scarf. And a large part of the reason was Tivar Moondragon. If you fence in the SCA, and you are accepted by your kingdom for it, then part of the reason is Tivar. If you wear a White Scarf (or a red one) then a large part of the reason is Tivar.

His lessons were always, clear, straightforward, and usually ended with a positive note. “There will always be some people who can do some things on the field that you just can't. Don't worry about it, work on your basics and have some double-stuff Oreos.”

Because he was so important to fencing, it’s easy to forget that his influence went well beyond that one area. His cadets have become part of every peerage circle -- a knight, three Laurels, a Pelican, a White Collar, and a Rose.

I could keep writing this forever. He and I have been friends for 47 years. But it’s already too long.

The next newcomer you meet will never know Tivar Moondragon – except through you. Tell people how SCA fencing grew. Tell them who taught us to fence well, to fit into our kingdoms, to love our Queens. Better yet – show them.

Ask every person if he's heard the story
And tell it strong and clear if he has not
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot

Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment
That was known as Camelot

Delphina de Champeaux

As others have done I would like to share a memory of how Don Tivar impacted my life. This happened a long time ago, I think that Alisha was Queen for her second reign. Sides were being chosen and each White Scarf was to choose in order of elevation.

In my history, I was always chosen last for teams, or next to last, and I was terrified that this day would be a repeat of history. I was cadet to Don Etienne at the time so I had hope that I wouldn't be standing alone at the end.

I didn't think that the majority of White Scarves even knew my name, much less that Tivar knew it. But I was chosen first (or second, I vaguely remember that there were two chosen first). My heart took flight! To be known and picked by a man who I admired (that everyone admired) so much was an amazing feeling that I will hold dear to me forever.

Myfanwy Ferch Eifion

Today the Society, Ansteorra, and the Barony of Bryn Gwlad lost a great man. Don Tivar Moondragon was instrumental in forming rapier combat in the Society. Don Tivar Moondragon was a Pelican who never stopped helping with everything he was able - set up, clean up, serving, hauling, tearing down, etc. However, I would like to speak as a former baroness of Bryn Gwlad. In this role, I always knew that I could trust Tivar to speak truth, to give counsel, and to support the decisions made. He will be missed. My love to his lady and his family.

Burke Kyriell MacDonald

I was thinking about Don Tivar and how much he will be missed. I think that one of the things I will miss is his sense of humor. I remember the day I received my AOA in 1980. I was under a pavilion when Tivar came over and congratulated me on becoming someone. He then said he was sorry but he could not speak with me anymore and turned to leave. As you might expect I was stunned by this and quickly caught up with him, inquiring why and had I done something wrong? Turning with a serious look on his face he said no but that the rumor was that peers only talked to other peers or nobodies so now that I was somebody, he could not talk to me. I guess the look on my face was hilarious because he started laughing almost immediately. He explained about the rumor going around and I was just too serious not to have my leg pulled. I will miss his humor and his nobility.

Elric Dracwin

I remember a coronation at the Greenville TX high school. When Tivar was called up, he strode forward as he always did. Someone (I think Pippin) shouted out, "He swaggers". Tivar responded, "Of course I swagger. I am a White Scarf!"

Sabine Fulhaeberin

The first time I went to Queen's Champion, I ended up fighting 5 dons in the Swiss Five portion of the tournament. I knew who Tivar was, so when I was paired with the first-ever White Scarf for my first-ever Queen's Champion fight, I was so nervous I thought I was going to be sick.

Then, he came over and asked what I wanted to fight, and we agreed on buckler. He was so friendly that I forgot to be nervous. I ended up losing the bout, but Tivar remembered me at the regional practice we went to the next day. He said he was looking forward to sparring with me again. It made my weekend.

Damon Xanthus

True story:
Knight: what’d ya wanna be when you grow up in the SCA?
Me: Tivar!
Knight: you wanna be a Don????
Me: yes!, but more so, I wanna be a Legend.
Knight: well we all right then.
Happy birthday White Scarves!

Alaster Kell

I believe it was Queen's Champion 2005...Don Tivar showed me some techniques I use to this day. To give you an idea, I am from Calontir. We had no rapier of any sort back then.

Knut Bjornsson, CAR, CAC

When I was first exploring the Society via google early on in my career, in 2012, I googled “rapier fencing” and his website appeared. Two years later I went to an event and saw a white scarf on the arm of a dapper gentleman. I asked a duchess who was showing me around if that was Tivar. It was not, as we were southern Meridies. I didn’t know what exactly a Knight was, but he made sure his idea of what a white scarf means was out there.

Lyonet de Covenham

Situation: mélée in the Fountain Court, Raglan Castle. Older chap seems to be hard to kill. Tactical instinct: work my way to his flank and stab him in the brisket. Score! He gave me an odd shrug and took the shot. Fight over, and I realise, 'did I disengage and then re-engage to stab him?' Clearly, he didn't care, happy to take the shot, happy to be fencing. What a gent.

Iago Cabrera de Cadiz

My favorite was when I hit someone in the chest, solidly enough that I heard the thump of the shot hitting his sternum. When he said, "Arm," Tivar who was marshalling, stopped the fight to "fix my hood," and asked if I was going to say something. I looked at him and said, "It just means I get to hit him again." He grinned, chuckled that evil chuckle, patted me on the helmet, and said something to the effect of, "Ah, I see. And now the student has become the master. Please continue." I took it as one of the highest compliments I've received in the SCA.

Pelican medallion gifted to Ximon Martillo De Cordoba

Ximon Martillo De Cordoba

In 2007, in the west kingdom he was one of several luminaries of rapier who attended Beltane Coronation event in April of that year. The event was where the first Western white scarfs were made. Sometime after the ceremony, there was open bouting allowed and I got to have my first bout with Chris Tivar Zakes. We started our fight but, he quickly stopped it and walked up to me and asked about my upcoming elevation to the Pelican (I was the first Rapier fighter that became a Pelican in the West) he asked me about it and when it was going to happen. He said, “Hang on, I’ll be right back” and walked away but shortly came back an presented me with a leather badge of a Pelican symbol on it and told me that this was given to him at an event so he could wear it during his bouts on the field. He apologized that he didn’t have anything fancy to give me, but wanted to give me this. I didn’t care. I still cherish it as one of my favorite Pelican badges.

Zain Mountain-Gate ap Simonn

Buckler made by Zain Mountain-Gate ap Simonn

(July 2021) I apologize for the tardiness of this particular message, the lack of timeliness for it making heavy my heart. I had meant to get this out yesterday but time kept slipping away as I chipped away at the small mountain of backlog issues and family concerns. Being cut off from phone and internet for a month was simultaneously jarring and refreshing. But it also made for a rather untimely response to certain issues. This past Queen's Champion was Ansteorra's first without Tivar Moondragon. And sadly, there will come a day when a Queen will ascend who has no personal knowledge of him, where memories have become tales which have become legend & myth. But it will not be this day. For my part, I presented the Crown of Ansteorra, present & future, with an offering so that Her Majesty would always have the Moondragon device safeguarding her, whether it be in court or the battlefield. No matter what may come, Her Majesty would know she was not alone and that Tivar and the fruits of his legacy would always protect her: The Order of the White Scarf, The Order of Defense, The Blade of Merit. My gift was a reworking of the buckler design Duchess Conall Ó Ríoghbhardáin once gave to her assembled troops at Gulf War. The front is an Ansteorran Rose. The back is a Rapier family line displaying the awards which would not exist without Tivar Moondragon. So I want to thank you, Aethelyan Moondragon, for the honor and privilege of assisting you in both the set up and teardown of the memorial wake for Tivar. Thank you for allowing my gift to sit on the table among artifacts of his life.

Tivar was a paragon of the grace and skill one would later come to associate with a skilled rapier fighter. He is the measuring stick by which the Order of the White Scarf, past, present, and future, are compared. In my life, Tivar was always a positive pillar and fixture although it was not until I was older that I began to fully appreciate the extent. He was ever a driving force to hone and improve myself. As a child, he was a watchful yet playful guardian. As a teenager, when I was willing, he was a rapier teacher. As an adult, he remained a teacher and consultant ... and one who would consistently manage to best my blade. Through it all, he made me work for everything. Through it all, his life and attitude showed me something I wished to be. I am blessed to have counted him as a friend and loved one. And he will be missed. Again, Æthelyan Moondragon, thank you for allowing a generally quiet fellow as myself to be of service on a day of memory. Much love to you and yours.

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