The War of the Three Hammers was a massive civil war between the great dwarven clans of Khaz Modan, Bronzebeard, Wildhammer, and Dark Iron. Ignited by the death of High King Modimus Anvilmar, ruler of all dwarfkind, the three powerful factions fought for succession of the late King's throne, a bloody and devastating series of battles and conflicts which lasted for several years. The conflict would ultimately shape the political landscape in and around Khaz Modan for years to come, and had drastic consequences for the future of the dwarven race.
Course of the War
A Kingdom Divided
Long ago, the stalwart dwarves of Khaz Modan lived together in general harmony. At the center of their prosperous kingdom stood Ironforge, a vast and mighty stronghold carved out of the titular Ironforge Mountain. However, as time went on, dwarven society grew too large within the confines of their great capital city. During this time, three powerful factions ruled the dwarven realm under their mighty High King, Modimus Anvilmar: The Bronzebeard, the Wildhammer, and the Dark Iron.
The Bronzebeard clan, ruled by Thane Madoran Bronzebeard, held close ties to the High King and stood as the traditional defenders of Ironforge. The Wildhammer clan, ruled by Thane Khardros Wildhammer, inhabited the foothills and crags around the base of the mountain and sought to gain more control within the city. The third faction, the Dark Iron clan, was ruled by the Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan. Ambitious and resentful, the Dark Irons hid within the deepest shadows under the mountain and plotted against both their Bronzebeard and Wildhammer cousins.
For some time, the three ruling clans maintained a tenuous peace, but with the sudden death of High King Anvilmar came a long and bloody civil war for control of the throne that would forever alter dwarven history. Before the High King's eldest son and rightful heir could be crowned, tensions between the great factions under the mountain finally boiled over. Although varying accounts contest which clan struck first, the capital soon fell into a state of chaos in war as each faction fought to fill the power vacuum created by the death of the High King.
After years of destruction and bloodshed, the Bronzebeard clan, who maintained the largest standing army, emerged victorious and banished the Wildhammer and the Dark Iron from the capital of Ironforge.
Thane Khardros of the Wildhammer clans led his people north, establishing their own kingdom and capital within the mountain of Grim Batol. Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan of the Dark Iron clans, likewise, led his people south, establishing their own empire within the Redridge Mountains. It was here that Dark Iron made contact with House Morgan, noble vassals of Stormwind and overseers of much of what was previously the Red Steppes.
Many years had passed, and prosperity of their empire did little to ease the Dark Irons' bitterness towards their dwarven cousins. After years of plotting and scheming, Thaurissan launched a two-pronged attack against the other dwarven clans. The Sorcerer-Thane led his own forces against the Bronzebeard capital, Ironforge, while his sorceress wife, Modgud, led forces against the Wildhammer's Grim Batol, in hopes of overwhelming the defenses of Khaz Modan.
The Dark Iron trudged deeply, desperately, into the capitals of their fellow dwarves, and very nearly took both kingdoms for themselves. However, Madoran Bronzebeard ultimately led his clan to a conclusive victory over Thaurissan's rebel army. Thaurissan and his servants fled back to the safety of their city, unaware of the events transpiring at Grim Batol, where Modgud's army would fare no better against Khardros and his Wildhammer warriors.
Striking back, the armies of the Bronzebeard and the Wildhammer marched on the capital of Thaurissan. With defeat nearly upon him, the Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan attempted to summon an ancient power sleeping beneath the Redridge Mountains. Ragnaros the Firelord, immortal lord of all fire elementals, had been banished by the Titans when the world was young. Now, freed by Thaurissan's call, Ragnaros erupted into being once again. Ragnaros' apocalyptic rebirth into Azeroth shattered the Redridge Mountains and created a raging volcano at the center of the devastation. The volcano, known as Blackrock Mountain, became bordered by the Searing Gorge to the north and the Burning Steppes to the south. Although Thaurissan was killed by the forces he had unleashed, his surviving Dark Iron brethren were ultimately enslaved by Ragnaros and his obedient elementals.
Empowered by yet another decisive victory, the Bronzebeard dwarves of Ironforge immediately began to repair the damage inflicted during the war. The Wildhammers, however, would be dismayed to find their capital, Grim Batol, was transformed into a place of darkness and terror; forever ruined by the shadow magic inflicted by Modgud and her sorcerers. Although the Bronzebeard royal family offered the Wildhammers a place in Ironforge, it was perceived as little more than a conciliatory gesture. Thane Khardros Wildhammer was too proud to ever accept such an offer, and for the second time in a matter of decades, the Wildhammer dwarves set out to forge a new home and a new future for their people.
While some Wildhammer dwarves settled in Northeron, not far from the ruins of Grim Batol, a vast majority ventured north to the lush valleys and woodlands of the Hinterlands. With the vile memories of Grim Batol still fresh in their minds, the Wildhammers elected to build a majestic open-air city, Aerie Peak. Around the capital of their new High Thanedom, the Wildhammer rekindled their ties to the natural world, practicing shamanism, befriending and taming the native gryphons, and relishing the relative peace and tranquility of the highlands (save for the occasional troll encounter).
Meanwhile, King Madoran Bronzebeard and High Thane Khardros Wildhammer, leaders of their victorious clans, established diplomatic ties and worked together to commission the Thandol Span, a means to both bridge the gap between Khaz Modan and Lordaeron, as well as offer a gesture of good-will between the Bronzebeards, the Wildhammers, and the humans which aided in the Dark Iron's defeat. Bolstered by mutual trade and vast natural resources, the kingdoms prospered, soon becoming great powerhouses within the continental Eastern Kingdoms.
After the deaths of Madoran and Khardros, their sons jointly commissioned two great statues in honor of their fathers located within the Valley of Kings. The two statues would stand guard over the pass into the southlands, which had become volcanic in the wake of Ragnaros' scorching presence. They served as both a warning to all who would attack the dwarven kingdoms, and as a reminder of what price the Dark Irons paid for their crimes.
Adapted from Wowpedia.