Star Wars: Where Was Thrawn During the Clone Wars?

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We know that Grand Admiral Thrawn has been a thorn in the side of the good guys ever since he first appeared as a canon character in ‘Star Wars: Rebels.’ He is also the biggest threat to the galaxy during the New Republic era, as that story is being told in the ‘Ahsoka’ series. But while that may be true, it just seems too uncanny that he wasn’t around to help the Republic against the Separatists during the Clone Wars. So, where was Thrawn during the Clone Wars era?

Grand Admiral Thrawn was with the Chiss Ascendancy in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy during the time of the Clone Wars. At that time, neither he nor the Chiss were aware that the Republic existed and that the Clone Wars were happening in the large galaxy that they belonged to until he met and allied with Anakin Skywalker.

It is worth mentioning that Thrawn was the first of his people to actually make contact with someone from the Republic, and that goes the same for Anakin, who was the first to make contact with someone from the Chiss Ascendancy. This is why it is understandable why Thrawn wasn’t familiar with the Republic and the Clone Wars happening in the galaxy. Let’s look into Thrawn’s story before joining the Empire.

Thrawn was with the Chiss Ascendancy

Even though we know that Thrawn has been one of the biggest threats to the Star Wars galaxy due to his incredibly astute mind and strategic way of thinking, what we know about him is that he wasn’t part of the Republic before it transitioned into the Empire.

Although many of the high-ranking officers of the Empire were high-ranking officers of the Republic, Thrawn rose to the post of Grand Admiral even though he wasn’t even part of the Republic during the Clone Wars and before that era.

That’s because Thrawn was off in the Unknown Regions of the Galaxy serving his people in the Chiss Ascendancy, which was an entirely different government that operated in that part of the galaxy. The Unknown Regions are labeled as such by the people in the known galaxy because this part of the galaxy is unknown. And while that may be true, the Chiss Ascendancy thrived in this part of the galaxy for a very long time.

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Born in the Chiss Ascendancy and raised by one of the most powerful Chiss families, Thrawn rose as a bright and powerful military leader among his people. In fact, while the Clone Wars were happening all over the galaxy, the Chiss Ascendancy had an entirely different problem related to a threat that Thrawn wanted to protect his people from. As such, he had to go on a mission to find allies against this mysterious threat.

Detailed in Timothy Zahn’s ‘Thrawn: Alliances’ novel, Thrawn embarked on a covert mission far away from the Chiss Ascendancy so that he could find an ally against a potential danger to his people. That was when he went to the Batuu system, where he had a chance encounter with the Jedi Knight known as Anakin Skywalker.

At that time, Anakin was on his own mission to try to find his missing wife, Senator Padmé Amidala, who suddenly disappeared. In that regard, Anakin went on an unsanctioned mission to rescue his wife, and it was in Thrawn that he could find an unlikely ally. Thrawn agreed to help Anakin in exchange for information regarding the events happening during the Clone Wars.

Thrawn and Anakin found Padmé in a hidden Separatist facility on the planet called Mokivj. Successful at rescuing Padmé, the duo parted ways, impressed by one another. Anakin was impressed by Thrawn’s astute mind and was quick to tell the story to Chancellor Palpatine. On the other hand, Thrawn respected Anakin’s bravery and unpredictability.

However, because Thrawn realized that the Republic was corrupt, incompetent, and weighed down by bureaucracy, he decided that it was not a good idea to ally with them. He left the galaxy’s known regions without the alliance he wanted to form. However, he was able to return to the Chiss Ascendancy with a fully functional deflector shield generator that he could present to his people.

The Chiss Ascendancy didn’t know about the Republic

Of course, the most important reason Thrawn wasn’t with the Republic during the time of the Clone Wars was that there was never any contact between the Chiss Ascendancy and an official from the Galactic Republic. That’s because the Unknown Regions were too difficult for anyone from the known galaxy to travel and navigate. Meanwhile, the Chiss hardly left their own space as they believed that the Unknown Regions, known as the Chaos, were too dangerous.

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In fact, when Thrawn went on a covert mission during the Clone Wars, it was the first time that someone from the Chiss Ascendancy contacted an officer from the Republic. Thrawn didn’t even speak the Basic language, as he had to communicate with Anakin using a translator. This made it clear that neither side knew about one another the entire time. Of course, Thrawn and the Chiss Ascendancy were unaware of the large war that was happening in the galaxy to which they belonged.

This makes it understandable why Thrawn wasn’t in the Republic during the time of the Clone Wars. He was with his people at that time, and his primary objective at that time was to protect the Chiss Ascendancy from an unknown and mysterious threat. 

It was only when Thrawn went out to explore the Empire during the Imperial era that he eventually joined the ranks of the Imperial Navy and rose to become a Grand Admiral. And because Palpatine was impressed by his abilities and knowledge, Thrawn became one of the few people whom the emperor allowed within his inner circle of trust.

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