Tholian Holdfast

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Tholian Holdfast Fact Sheet
Updated SD 220116
  • RELIABILITY CLASSIFICATION: D (limited, brief contacts by Star Fleet/neutral/hostile assets)


Tholian, in the to speak

The Tholian Holdfast is a race and culture unlike any other in the ASR universe; their physiology is the most non-human of any race encountered, and their xenophobia is unmatched even by the Klingons or the Romulans.

The Tholians are primarily a Gold Fleet threat, specifically in the Krima Expeditionary Force Theater, due due their cosmic location coreward of the Federation and the Gorn governments. It is possible for units of the NRP Indigo Fleet and, on an extremely rare occassion, Green Fleet, to have encounters with Tholian assets, but it is unlikely at best that Silver or Blue Fleets would.


The Tholians have, since their unfortunate first contact with the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 well over 100 years ago, shown themselves to be extremely xenophobic, not allowing any vessel, military or otherwise to cross their borders.

One school of thought believes this is because they fear corruption of their morals and principals from outside influences. They also have a strong, ingrained fear of conquest by others; one gets the distinct impression that some of their earliest myths deal with a rather brutal race who conquered and enslaved them until they were freed by revolution.

The second, and more popular, belief is based somewhat on information provided by the Tholians themselves, and events of over a century ago. The Tholians are not native to the Alpha Quadrant, this much has been proven. It is believed that hundreds of years ago, just as many of the Alpha Quadrant's natives were achieving limited warp ability, the Tholians arrived fleeing from a revolt in their home system. The Tholians were apparently rulers of an immense empire, rivalling that of the Iconians, using a genetically engineered race of insectoids to police their conquered planets. At some point, the insectoids developed beyond their original plan and overthrew their former masters. One small province of the empire decided that it was time to leave. Using the web technology that had been in wide use in the empire for centuries, they packed up all the ships they could find, and towed a small moon that was hospitable to them through a wormhole on the edge of the empire.

Once they arrived in the Alpha Quadrant they looked for a suitable place to put their planet, and found a huge asteroid belt near the edge of what is now Gorn, Romulan, and Federation space, and at one point bordered on the edge of the Klingon Empire as well.

Fearful that their former slaves and subjects would come looking for them, they used their web technology to effectively secure the asteroid belt.

Unfortunately, the province had been a small and poor one, and as such there were few ships, and more importantly fewer engineers. The Tholians had a problem, in that they could build very few components for their ships, lacking the materials that had been present in their own home galaxy, did not have any shipyards, and only had a limited ability to repair the ships that they did possess. This was also a contributing factor to their xenophobia.

After their initial contact with the Federation, a treaty of non aggression was reached, as the UFP was embroiled in the Second Klingon War at that time. One condition of the treaty, which the Federation protested vehemently, was the Tholians demanded phaser technology. Until that time they had used a weapon that was somewhat similar, but could not manufacture or repair it. Only the fact that the UFP was in a costly war with the Klingon Empire|Klingons]] at the same time, and could not afford to fight a war on two fronts, caused the Federation to agree to such a stipulation.

The Klingons sought to take advantage of the situation by drawing the Tholians into outright conflict with the Federation. In rare form, the Klingons attempted to use stealthy methods of entering Tholian space and stage attacks meant to appear as Federation attacks. The Klingon cloaking technology appeared useless against the Tholians. Their highly maneuverable ships and adaptive use of anchoring their web technology to asteroids (instead of between two ships) proved disastrous for the Klingons. It is believed that the Tholians were able to use their suspected psionic capabilities to track the Klingon invaders. Fully 43 ships were lost to the Klingons, with figures for the Tholians believed to be less than a dozen.

At that time, all Tholian ships were based on a diamond design. The largest warships they had brought with them were light cruisers, roughly the size of a modern frigate. They had no true capital ships, their solution was to effectively weld three light cruisers together.

At the height of the war, a new force appeared on the edge of Klingon space. The Tholians feared that it was their old subjects who had finally tracked them down, but it turned out to be more Tholians fleeing their home space. This group, an entire battle fleet, and support craft, had not had the advantage of a wormhole, and stumbled upon their brothers by cosmic accident. The Klingons, after one short battle realized who this force was and politely pointed them to their new home. Starfleet, staying true to the non-aggression treaty, provided safe passage through Federation space.

These Neo-Tholians brought with them a fleet repair docks, and more importantly engineers and schematics for ship designs. At last contact, the Tholians had converted the repair dock into a ship yard, and had begun producing new ships and refitting their older ones. Once the Neo-Tholians arrived at Tholia, the Assembly cut diplomatic ties with the outside, and very little has been heard from the Holdfast since. Sporadic diplomatic contacts, and reports from pirates and smugglers let us know that the Tholians are still around, but all in all there has been little or no contact in over sixty years.


The physical appearance of a Tholian is a crystalline-like structure. However, with a loose analogy to humanoid biology, the crystalline structure serves as a suspension for a micro-crystalline make-up that further serves a suspension of their "bodily fluid."

Bodily fluid is something of an understatement. Where as the human body has multiple fluids with specific duties, a single fluid-type performs all functions necessary to the sentient being. Believed to a be a combination of trichloromonoflouromethane, dichlorodiflouromethane and an oleic acid (for internal "lubrication") the Tholian can theoretically move its fluid to another host crystal and live almost indefinitely. It is, also, possible that this fluid is bio-luminescent thus displaying differing colors based on one's mood or emotional state.

The already known issue of a Tholian's psionic capabilities lends credence that this fluid is a very concentrated biological material. And that the crystalline "body" may act as an antenna and/or amplifier for these capabilities.

Based on this crystalline theory, Tholians may be more susceptible to projectile-type weaponry as opposed to energy based weapons. Given that, if the crystalline body is damaged enough then the Tholian would likely "bleed" to death. Unless they have some form of crystal regeneration technology heretofore as yet unseen.


Tholian use their web weapon to capture a starship.

Consistent with the psychological and technological capabilities of the Tholians, their power and propulsion systems maintain near 100% efficiency. There is some credence to this theory, given the fact that Tholian "cloaking" systems render them virtually invisible to all known forms of technological detection. Research and experimentation may provide evidence that a person with extreme psionic and telepathic abilities would have more success in detecting Tholian vessels.

To date, no Tholian vessels have been commandeered or captured to reveal any evidence as to how their vessels are powered. Postulation suggests that they may use some form of quantum cold fusion technology that allows their systems to run at the near 100% efficiency rating.

Their primary weapon, the web technology, appears to be made of some form of ultra-carbon based polymer with a form of electrical/energy conduction properties. These conduction properties could be similar to Federation vessel plasma conduits. These webs (or some device used in conjunction with these webs) are also rumored to possess energy-dampening properties.

Another aspect that still remains in speculation is how their innate psionic capabilities tie in with their ships systems. It is possible that they use some form of crystallized antenna that may or may not connect directly to their power systems. This is supported by their use of psionic capabilities to communicate, over long distances even, and possibly locate other vessels even while cloaked. However, this possibility is countered by one simple observation: for a crystalline based entity to use crystals as part of the technology is akin to humanoids using human tissue (nerve tissue most notably) to manage their vessels. More intelligence and investigation is suggested and required to fully assess the Tholians technological capabilities.


The Tholian ships are still based on the diamond design of their original cruisers seen in the Alpha Quadrant. However, capital ships have also been sighted, though these appear to be merely a diamond shaped cruiser with a rear weapons and engine suite attached. There is one report of separation by the lead module, which later reattached itself, in a similar vein to the saucer separation of some Star Fleet vessels. It is unknown whether the rear portion can operate independently.

They possess keen military minds by nature, which has served them well. They do not appear to possess weapons technology of quite the same punch as Star Fleet, but their cunning and their use of a "special weapon" have kept most of the other governments in the galaxy at bay.

The Tholians are extremely vigilant in their border patrols. No one has been able to cross the border without being intercepted, including cloaked ships. This points to the strong possibility of superior Tholian sensors. They never fail to warn encroaching ships before defending their borders, at least not when Star Fleet has been involved. However, should the aggressor fail to retreat within the given time frame, they do not hesitate to attack. And, this is when they make use of their "special weapon": the infamous Tholian Web.

The Tholian Web is an energy web consisting of energy filaments of an unknown nature, which are woven together by 2 Tholian starships. This web creates a general dampening field, draining the target ship gradually of its power. When completed, the web completely encompasses the target ship, completely draining the ship's power and therefore leaving it unable to escape. The dampening field is a new development in their web technology, the web that almost trapped the USS Enterprise did not create such a field. Regardless, should a ship be able to fend off even a large portion of the dampening field's effects, it is doubtful any ship could penetrate the web itself, as the energy filaments comprising the web are capable of penetrating existing shields and slicing through bare hull. In essence, a ship would be able to pass through it, but it would be in pieces on the other side. This is not a desirable outcome. In order to diffuse the web, a way in which to either dampen the web's energy source or to reinforce the shields and/or superstructure integrity seems the best way of negating this technology. At this time, nothing firm exists. In addition, this does not answer how to combat the energy dampening effect on the ship from the web, although theoretical solutions involving the shifting of power frequencies look promising.

With the arrival of the Neo-Tholian fleet, even further development in web technology was observed. A web caster is capable of throwing free standing webs, though of lesser strength than the anchored webs afforded by the original web spinners.

Also unknown is the effectiveness of their transporter technology. They do possess it, but it is unknown if Tholian transporters can penetrate StarFleet shields. This possibilty creates at least one difficult logistical problem for CSO's: defending against possible boarding actions could be problematic at best.

Tholian ships are highly maneuvrable, and operate in small groups. They are only very rarely seen outside of Tholian space, and when they are it is always as one heavy cruiser and two light cruisers. Speculation is that any of their smaller ships would not be able to defend themselves against other ships of comparable size in open space. However, as is evidenced by the attempted Klingon invasion of the asteroid belt, a relatively small number of small ships can effectively and efficiently defend their home territory with the assistance of webs.

It is known that it is impossible to fire through a web, free standing or otherwise. Ships can fire out of a web if they are trapped in it, and other ships can fire into it, but weapons cannot fire through the web. There is one notable exception to this. At some unknown point after receiving Federation phasers, the Tholians made some sort of modification which allows phasers fitted to their ships to fire through the webs. This also contributes to the effective defense of Tholian space.

In addition to phasers, the Tholians use disruptors captured from ships during the Klingon invasion, and use photon torpedoes captured from pirate vessels over the years. In fact it is believed that the Tholians have captured technology from every power that has been the victim of pirates at one time or another. There is no piracy within the Holdfast, nor are foreign vessels allowed within her borders.

There are unconfirmed reports from Klingon fleets that small Tholian craft can move through the webs with ease. Reports say that Tholian frigate size ships and smaller can move through the web instead of going around it. It would seem however, that the larger Tholian ships do not enjoy this freedom.

No Alpha power has ever captured a Tholian ship intact, and therefore no one has ever been able to reproduce the web technology. With good reason, the Tholians jealously guard their one advantage, and as a condition of treaties with the Federation, Romulans, Klingons and Gorns, have extracted a promise based upon the Cloaking Treaties between the Federation and Romulans, except with regard to web technology.

Recommendation: Keep all sensitive areas guarded with security personnel and/or Marines while in the vicinity of Tholian vessels. Though no official hostilities exist currently between the UFP and the Tholian Holdfast, no meaningful diplomatic relations have taken place either. This mission is the first in almost 50 years. Prudence is required, but tact is as well; keep guards out of sight from normal corridor traffic. Guards must be inconspicuous so as not to offend these sometimes temperamental beings.

Best tactical situation: In one-on-one situations, use superior range and power to disable at long ranges. Once they get within 150,000km, the odds turn slightly in their favour due to their better mobility. Keep them at bay, disable them at ranges beyond 200,000km. If multiple Tholian ships have been engaged, isolate and apply similar tactics. Remember that Tholians are keen tacticians, so keep them guessing by switching manoeuvres and maybe even straying from standard Star Fleet tactics. But the goal should always be the same: isolate and disable at long ranges. You will take some shots close in from other vessels, but gradually you will erase their numeric superiority with superior range and firepower.

Typical Tholian Tactics: The largest vessel will throw up a web as a shield, to eliminate any range advantage that an opponent may possess. They will then close, and attempt to use their manoeuverability to avoid damage and put themselves in a position to attack from slightly to one side. In the meantime, the other two vessels will fire phasers from behind the web. Typically opponents will attempt to engage the cruiser, at which point the smaller vessels will attempt to ensnare the enemy, thus effectively ending the fight. Tholian fleets operate much the same way.

OSFI has been unable to determine the size of the Tholian Navy at this time; however, projections based on actions within Gorn space have indicated that, despite being restricted to an area less than a tenth the size of the UFP, they may very well enjoy a navy nearing a tenth the size of Star Fleet's. It is possible that these estimates are inaccurate, as it is unknown the number of shipyards the Tholians possess, and the number of ships needed to protect their territory is proportionally smaller than that needed by the Federation. One analyst has theorized that one patrol group, consisting of a medium cruiser and two destroyer equivalents, could patrol and protect an area 526% larger than a similar deployment of Star Fleet vessels. Therefore, the Tholians have, proportionally, a much larger force available for conflict. This becomes especially discomforting given recent Star Fleet losses in various actions around the galaxy.

Tholian naval design appears to have remained consistent throughout the years. Their vessels, always gem-shaped with multiple facets, are smaller than their Star Fleet counterparts, but are far faster and much more maneuvrable. Their largest reported capital ships are roughly the size of an Endeavour-class cruiser. However, they can do heavy close-range damage due to the nature of the weapons used; certainly capable of disabling a starship. Once they have disabled a starship, they are almost impossible to escape from. The Tholians are not known for destroying ships, in most cases they disable their opponent and then force the crew to abandon ship. Once this is accomplished, they will tow their new prize deep inside Tholian territory.


Forty years ago, there was a Gorn colony on Beta Scorpii III, a mineral rich planet totally intolerable to either Gorn or Tholian life, so the colonies are all under force fields, pressure domes, and, in some cases, underground. A Tholian squadron, however, attacked and destroyed the colony, killing all of the Gorn on the planet. The Tholians then built their own atmospheric domes on the surface. The Gorn declared war but the hostilities dragged on for over two years until the fighting just died out. No resolution was ever reached, and the Tholians kept the planet reasonably well-protected to keep the Gorn away. In the time after, the Gorn were too busy fighting among themselves, and assessing blame for their failure to defeat the Tholians to commit a large part of their resources to fighting a protracted conflict. The Tholians, on the other hand, wisely kept from attacking the Gorn so that they would not unite against a common foe.

Recently the Gorn sent a task force of ships to retake the planet, which succeeded mainly due to the cooperation from the recent alliance of the Gorn clans.

This series of on-again/off-again fighting has been loosely called The Tholian/Gorn Conflict. Despite facing the superior firepower possessed by the Gorn Navy, the Tholians were able to defend their new conquests, using their superior mobility and superior numbers to basically surround and capture/destroy lumbering Gorn starships which are not known for their maneuverability. There were at least a dozen distinct "skirmishes" in this conflict, which finally petered out in 2411, when the Gorn Hegemony turned its attention to the mineral-rich Federation border.

Since the end of the Tholian/Gorn Conflict, there had been no meaningful contact between the Federation and the Tholians until 2418, when ambassadors on both sides met to discuss forging an economic treaty and a trade agreement. These negotiations, however, would not be without incident.

The Second Tholian Treaty

Negotiations began on board Deep Space 13 in mid-2418. Before the nogotiations could proceed very far, however, the Tholian Ambassador was killed. Initial invesitgations pointed towards agents of the Gorn Hegemony as being the likely culprits.

As the investigations proceeded, the negotiations continued, this time convening in secret on Orestes Prime. However, both Federation and Tholian ambassadors were killed in a bomb blast. Again, evidence pointed towards the Gorn Hegemony.

The USS Circe was dispatched to investigate the murder on Orestes Prime and to secure the continuing negotiations, now taking place on Karbella II. Eventually, both the DS13 and the Circe investigations would reveal that the murders were in fact carried out by Section 31 operatives in order to drive the Tholians and the Federation into a war with the Gorn Hegemony- a war the Gorn could not win, thereby removing them from the galactic map and further securing Federation interests along the Gold Fleet border.

Eventually, the Tholians and the Federation signed what became known as The Second Tholian Treaty. Though specific details of the treaty are still classified, what IS known is that it is a lucrative agreement for both sides.




  • The Tholian Holdfast pages are based on information created by Matthew Nicholls, David Hills, Sean Speake and Scott Lusby. In addition, Gary Knerr has also helped substantially in the continued development and editing of these pages.