Tali'Zorah nar Rayya (often simply referred to as Tali) is a female Quarian from the video game franchise Mass Effect. Tali is an extremely skilled engineer. Her mother was killed five years before Mass Effect takes place from an airborne virus, while her father is a very high ranking official in Quarian politics and is head of the Admiralty Board. Tali's voice was provided by Liz Sroka.
Tali was on her pilgrimage, a Quarian rite of passage, when she managed to capture a sound file from a Geth which contained an important conversation between Saren and Matriarch Benezia. Possession of the sound file put her in great danger and Saren hired a team of assassins to kill her. Tali fled to the Citadel, attempting to give the information from the sound file to the Shadow Broker in exchange for a hiding place, but was tricked by Fist. Commander Shepard and his/her squad arrived and defeated the assassins before they could kill Tali and she revealed the sound file on Saren to Shepard, Ambassador Udina and Captain Anderson. The sound file helped give more information on the Reapers and the Conduit and provided as evidence to help revoke Saren's Spectre status, although the council did not accept the file as sufficient evidence in itself. Tali joined Shepard and his/her crew, wishing to prove herself and help fight against Saren. Tali acted as an engineer aboard the Normandy and said she felt very privileged to work on one of the Citadels strongest ships. Throughout her time as part of the Normandy's crew Tali revealed much information on the Quarians and their history, including their fight against the Geth.
Problems with Geth
At one point in Mass Effect, Commander Shepard can take part in a side-quest where he destroys multiple Geth strongholds in the Armstrong Cluster. Eventually, Shepard is able to retrieve a cache of information regarding the history and society of the Geth. After the mission, if Shepard talks to Tali, she will request a copy of the cache; Shepard can either hand over the cache, which Tali will use as her item found in pilgrimage, or deny Tali access due to Alliance confidentiality. Either way, Tali says that after the primary mission of defeating Saren, she will leave the Normandy crew.
In Tali's conversations with Shepard, she presents one of the many philosophical quandaries of the Mass Effect universe. The Quarians, as creators of the Geth, also created their own defeat and exile from their home world, They inadvertently enabled the Geth to become much more intelligent than they intended by unknowingly creating the Geth with the ability to share certain low level functions when in groups and so they can devote more capacity for abstract thought. When the Quarians discovered that the Geth became a true artificial intelligence, the Quarians initially tried to shut them down then ended up fighting a full scaled war against them. When the Quarians lost, the Geth, perhaps now threatened by organic life, began to attack other planets leading to a war with the full Citadel government. Shepard struggles with this cause and effect and with Tali's insistence that the Geth are dangerous and wrong despite the Quarian's attempting to first shut them down then destroy the Geth by force. The theme of artificial and organic life at odds with each other is a theme of the game and the main quest.
Mass Effect 2
Tali encounters Commander Shepard on the human colony Freedom's Progress, during an investigation of an Collector attack. Tali is looking for Veetor, a Quarian visiting Freedom's Progress during his Pilgrimage. She's surprised and happy knowing that Shepard is alive, but also cautious and upset about him now working for Cerberus. After finding Veetor, Shepard has the choice of giving Cerberus the information he has given them, or taking the young Quarian in for interrogation. The latter choice causes Tali to express her disapproval. When asked to join back up with the Commander, Tali explains she still has work to do for the Flotilla, but may return later on.
Later on, Shepard is given the option to recruit Tali for the mission against the Collectors. Tali is on the planet Haestrom, a former Quarian colony being affected by its unstable parent star Dholen. During her research, Geth attack her and her team, leaving the Quarian trapped in a building. After the Geth are taken care of, Tali agrees to join Shepard. Before leaving, she gives her research data to the other survivor of the attack Kal'Reegar. When aboard the new Normandy, Tali shows her disdain for Cerberus by dismissing the warm welcome by fellow team member Jacob. Tali explains again to Shepard that she's on this mission for him, not Cerberus.
- Combat Drone
- A.I. Hacking
- Quarian Machinist
- Energy Drain (unlocked in Mass Effect 2, and only when character is loyal)
Quarian names are made up of three components. The first part is the given name, second is the clan name, while the last part is a ship's name. Before their pilgrimage--a coming-of-age ritual--Quarians live on the ship they were born on. Therefore, they carry the name of their birth ship until they successfully complete their pilgrimage. After this ritual, the Quarian will serve on another ship which is reflected in their name. In Tali's case she was born as Tali'Zorah nar Rayya. Tali is her given name, Zorah is her clan name while Rayya is her birth ship. In this name, "nar" is a modifier that signifies the fact that the Rayya is her birth ship. After her pilgrimage, Tali transferred to the Neema and thus became known as Tali'Zorah vas Neema. The 'Neema' is the name of the ship she serves on which is signified by the modifier "vas". In Mass Effect 2 Tali eventually rejoins Shepard's crew on board the Normandy which, according to the tradition of the Quarian people, makes her Tali'Zorah vas Normandy.
Relationship with Commander Shepard
After getting much flack for not being a romantic choice in the first Mass Effect, the player has the ability to woo her in the sequel. Tali is uncertain to go through with it at first due the Quarian's immune system, but wants the experience to be like if they were on the Quarian home world. Her skin against his.
If players do go after Tali's affection, she will visit them in their cabin before the Normandy goes through the Omega 4 Relay. Tali explains that she has taken many antibiotics and herbal supplements to increase her immune system, but also keeps talking due to a nervous defense mechanism. Before consummating their love, Shepard takes off Tali's mask at a very unrevealing camera angle, leaving players still wondering what she truly looks like. After, if players talk to Tali she reveals that she is sick with various symptoms, but says, "it was totally worth it." In addition, like all other romantic options, Shepard can call Tali back up to the cabin to cuddle.
In Mass Effect 2, Tali'Zorah is able to summon a drone during combat. While its functionality is the same as other combat drones in the game, Tali'Zorah's drone is unique in the sense that it is the only drone in the game that is referred to by name when summoned. Chiktikka vas Paus, as the drone is called, is a reference to BioWare's seminal role playing game 'Baldur's Gate II'. Chiktikka vas Paus is a near-homophone of Baldur's Gate II's raccoon character 'Chiktikka Fastpaws'. In Baldur's Gate II, Chiktikka Fastpaws is the animal companion of Baervan Wildwanderer; the forest, travel, and nature deity who lives in the realm of the Golden Hills. Baervan Wildwanderer is worshipped by Aerie, one of the primary party members in Baldur's Gate II.
When Chiktikka vas Paus is summoned in Mass Effect 2, Tali'Zorah sometimes exclaims "Nobody is faster than Chiktikka vas Paus!" whereas in Baldur's Gate II, Aerie can respond to commands by saying "Faster than Chiktikka Fastpaws!"
Aerie and Tali'Zorah are similar characters in the sense that they are both specialized in supporting powers or spells when in combat. Also, they are both female non-human party members who can be romanced in their respective games.
Another reference to BioWare's classic RPG can be found when Tali'Zorah summons her combat drone and shouts "Go for the optics, Chiktikka; go for the optics!" which is basically paraphrasing the character Minsc who, in Baldur's Gate II, shouts "Go for the eyes, Boo; go for the eyes!" to his miniature giant space hamster (not at all incidentally, Commander Shepard can buy a space hamster for his private quarters on the Citadel).
The combat drone's name adheres to the in-game universe's established Quarian naming convention. Chiktikka vas Paus can be interpreted to mean: Chiktikka (which is its given name), crew of the ship 'Paus'. Its name implies that the drone is actually not of the same ship that Tali serves on (the Neema or the Normandy), nor is Chiktikka from the ship Tali was born on (the Rayya).
Mass Effect 3
If Tali survived Mass Effect 2 - she may first be encountered following Councillor Udina's attempted coup on the Presidium of the Citadel. After the coup, Shepherd receives word that the Quarians, who usually keep to themselves, are willing to talk with Shepherd with regard to the ongoing reaper war. When Shepherd first meets with the Quarians, Tali accompanies them and is immediately accessible as a squad member.