Machinations of the Slave Lords!
Gnomish Mercantile Clans
Another rapidly-growing power throughout the world is the influence and reach of the gnomish mercantile clans. Two such clans have thus far openly set up operations in Phandalin: the Waltons and the Dayton-Hudsons. It is absolutely certain that the Gnomish clans have legends about the Spellforge and its presence in the Mines of Phandelver, and there has been a great deal of wheeling and dealing to try and convince the Rockseekers that each clan is the best choice to work with the dwarves on getting the mines back to capacity. The dwarves, as yet, have not made up their minds, as they trust neither clan.
Other Gnomish clans of note throughout the Flaeness include:
It is generally accepted that the clans engage in shadow wars with one another, conducting industrial espionage, subterfuge, assassination and strong-arm tactics to run competitors out of town and get a leg up on their competition. Where once, centuries ago, the gnomes were respected craftsmen, they are now a group of organized crime families that rival the Greyhawk Theives Guild and Scarlet Brotherhood in reach and power, if not in the nature of their operations (a fact which has thus far kept them from clashing with these two powerful criminal organizations).