Gandalf the telltale, missing scrolls

Aspen Convallin

New Member

Gandalf is placed in the whistleblower’s dilemma.

He wonders if he’s been influenced by the Dark Power himself.

Everything he does is designed to hide his activities from the White Council.

Other scrolls about the ring in Gondor may have been hidden or taken.

"But I spoke yet of my dread to none, knowing the peril of an untimely whisper, if it went astray. In all the long wars with the Dark Tower treason has ever been our greatest foe." Book 2 Chapter 2

The "treason" appears to refer to Saruman but Tolkien's use of the passive voice introduces ambiguity, a common narrative device of Tolkien. Gandalf might be worried that he himself was being treasonous by questioning the truthfulness of his leader. Gandalf was considering if Saruman was purposely lying, not just mistaken. Or, was Gandalf himself being influenced by the ring or the Dark Power into thinking treasonous thoughts?

Gandalf here is suffering from the whistle-blower's dilemma. You suspect your boss of lying and maybe even consorting with the enemy. Until you have conclusive evidence, you know if you take your allegation to the board of directors you'll be the one accused of treason. In the meantime, you wonder if your suspicion is indeed disloyalty, is the enemy's power insidiously affecting you? And you work secretly to gather evidence - but your secrecy is an act of distrust and disloyalty of itself.

A telltale will have two objectives:

1) prove your boss was lying in order to remove him from the board of directors and

2) to reveal the truth about what what your boss was lying about so you can try to prevent (global destruction).

You don't want your boss to get too suspicious about what you're up to. Neither do you want to be accused of treason. Either would delay the revelation of the truth. So you tell no one, especially no one on the board of directors.

But you need help, a confidant. It can't be anyone on the board of directors because they might get tipped off and stop you. Also, you don't want the whole board of directors to be implicated in your boss' deception - unless warranted. Your confidant would preferably be someone with a vested interest in revealing the truth and have resources independent of the board of directors. Your confidant could also provide you with a reality check. In their opinion, are you being too suspicious? Are you being influenced by the Dark Power? Are your concerns legitimate?

And what would constitute undeniable evidence that your boss was lying? He imprisons you when he knows you have proof he was lying. That would suffice.

So, first prove that this is the One Ring. Then see what Saruman does with you when you prove it.

Gandalf always had doubts about the providence of the ring. But that did not mean Saruman was lying; he could have simply been mistaken. When "a" ring surfaced, the one Bilbo found after/during the expulsion of Sauron from Dol Goldur, Gandalf's suspicions started to take shape.

"A shadow fell on my heart then" and "From the first my heart misgave me, against all reason that I knew".

"I might perhaps have consulted Saruman the White, but something always held me back."

Gandalf had questions: Why did Saruman not immediately advise attacking Sauron in Dol Goldur? Why did he then yield? Why did he use negative evidence and a passive voice when reassuring the ring "was rolled down to the sea" and Sauron would be cheated? So, Gandalf trusted his own instincts.

But when Bilbo had such trouble giving up the ring after his birthday party:

"He said and did things...that no words of Saruman could allay." and "my doubts were awakened again to sudden fear".

Aragorn is the perfect choice for a confidant because:

- He is not on the White Council so it would be easier to keep their investigation discreet

- He knows the value of discretion and is good at it because he knows his existence as the heir of Isildur could be used against them by the enemy and he has been keeping it under wraps his whole life

- He has skills and resources as a tracker and has a network of trackers in the Dunedain.

- He has connections in Mirkwood, a place with no representation on The White Council and so can be used to keep things discreet.

- He can provide a reality check for Gandalf about whether or not Gandalf's concerns are legitimate

- He has a vested interest in revealing the truth because if this is the One Ring, then the time for him to reveal himself as the heir of Isildur is approaching. Then he can openly help in the fight against Sauron

Aragorn deemed Gandalf's concerns legitimate, agreed to keep his suspicions a secret, and counselled that they should search out whatever evidence they could find by first looking for Gollum.

Gandalf was subconsciously always going over everything Saruman said:

"The memory of words at the Council came back to me: words half-heeded at the time"

It's a good thing in hindsight that they were half-heeded because if Gandalf had shown any interest in the words, which were about the inscription on the ring, Saruman may have at the least, watched him more closely and at the worst, acted openly against him then. Saruman knew that Gandalf was prone to what he considered meddling in other's affairs because Gandalf was the one to reveal to the others on the White Council that the power in Dol Goldur was in fact Sauron. If Saruman knew then that Gandalf was curious about the proof, that may have been enough for him to imprison Gandalf and go get Bilbo in The Shire. But he didn't know because Gandalf showed no interest and seemed to accept Saruman's explanation about the ring.

Missing scrolls:

So Gandalf off to Gondor goes and finds a scroll that seems to be a private journal of Isildur's.

In this scroll, Isildur indicates he will leave other records about the ring in Gondor, but Gandalf doesn't find any others and Denethor is not forthcoming with any information.

Gandalf says about the scroll "still unread, I guess, by any save Saruman and myself..., a scroll that Isildur made himself."

Gandalf assumed Denethor had not found this scroll and guessed that Saruman had; but perhaps neither of them had seen this scroll and the other records referred to by Isildur did, in fact, exist. This scroll only proved Isildur had the intention of leaving other records, not that there were other records. Perhaps any other records were hidden by Denethor, maybe at Saruman's request, or even taken by Saruman unbeknownst to Denethor.

Denethor said cryptically "But unless you have more skill even than Saruman, who has studied here long, you will find naught that is not well known to me,".

He knows about the ring. We know this because Boromir knew about the ring. But Boromir did not know that Isildur took it.

"So that is what became of the Ring! ... Isildur took it! That is tidings indeed." said Boromir at the Council of Elrond

So, did Denethor not know either, or just not tell anyone that he knew Isildur took it? It seems very strange that they would not know this in Gondor since this is in part why there is no king in Gondor.

It's possible to believe, in hindsight, that Saruman took any other Gondorian records of the One Ring. He would not want to leave any information about it for anyone to find because if a ring were found that could possibly be the One Ring, he would not want the finder to be able to prove it for themselves. If a ring were found, he would want it brought to him so he could verify it privately as the One Ring, and then use it himself. But, he has not put out the word that he wants anyone who finds a ring to bring it to him because he doesn't want anyone to know he is looking for the One Ring - he wants everyone to believe it was rolled to the sea. And he wants to find any unusual rings before anyone else does. He obviously doesn't know about Bilbo's ring until just before he summons Gandalf and he only knows that because the Nine are looking for it in The Shire.

There may be other hints about these scrolls and later in the book or in the Silmarillion but if we are sticking to our practice of knowing just what we know from what we have read so far in LotR and not even the prologue nor the appendices, then I believe that Denethor has hidden them at the request of Saruman - combo.

There is not enough evidence so far about where Saruman got his information about the inscription on the ring. Perhaps from Isildur's journal scroll, the other scrolls, or maybe just from knowledge passed down by the elves from Celebrimbor.

This brainstorming is so much fun! Please forgive the verb tense inconsistencies :)

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I don't think Gandalf has hidden everything from the White Council - I think he has shared his fears about the Ring with Elrond, who after all has Bilbo living right there in Rivendell, and should know about that scene at Bag End.

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
So, did Denethor not know either, or just not tell anyone that he knew Isildur took it? It seems very strange that they would not know this in Gondor since this is in part why there is no king in Gondor.
There were many years between Isildur's death and the end of the Kingship in Gondor, and many kings. So how is Isildur's taking the Ring from Sauron's hand part of why there is no King? There isn't even clear knowledge of how Isildur died, except that he died of an orc arrow. Even Faramir, who has studied much more than his brother, does not know what Isildur's bane is, though he has read that Isildur took something from the hand of Sauron. That this is the One Ring is definitely news to him.