Tarkin oversaw the construction and operation of the first Death Star, and did so with cold authority. To test the battle station's destructive power and to coax information out of Princess Leia, Tarkin decides to destroy her home planet of Alderaan.
FALL OF THE REPUBLIC
Wilhuff Tarkin was born on the Outer Rim planet Eriadu, scion of a prestigious family whose lineage dated back to the planet’s earliest settlers. Tarkin’s parents taught Wilhuff ruthlessness by sending him to Eriadu’s untamed Carrion Plateau shortly after his eleventh birthday. There, the boy got an education in tracking and hunting while defending himself against Eriadu’s vicious native fauna. The experience taught Tarkin that life was an ongoing battle for survival, with the strong and smart staying on top by gaining and keeping control of those below them. As a teenager in the Outland Regions Security Force, Tarkin applied those lessons to space combat, destroying a band of pirates known as Q’anah’s Marauders. That led to a place in the Sullust Sector Spacefarers Academy, where Tarkin met Naboo’s ambitious Senator Palpatine. Palpatine became Tarkin’s mentor, helping him secure a spot in the Judicial Academy. Tarkin served with the Judicial Department, but Palpatine advised him to resign and return to Eriadu as the planet’s governor. When the Clone Wars began, Tarkin opted for renewed military service, undertaking a number of covert missions on behalf of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
One of Captain Tarkin’s missions for Palpatine paired him with the Jedi Master Even Piell, and sought to control the secret Nexus Route through hyperspace -- a mission that ended with Piell and Tarkin imprisoned in the Separatist fortress known as the Citadel. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi led a rescue mission, during which Tarkin and Anakin found they agreed that the Jedi’s code of ethics prevented them from going far enough to achieve victory. It was a fateful meeting, though the two would find themselves at odds when Tarkin -- now an admiral -- led the investigation of a terrorist attack on the Jedi Temple and prosecuted Ahsoka Tano in connection with that attack.
THE DARK TIMES
After Palpatine became Emperor, Tarkin became a Moff in the new Empire. He was admired as one of the leaders of a ruthless order of technocrats who stood in stark contrast to the tradition-minded holdovers from the Republic. Tarkin led pacification operations against Separatist remnants, ordering mass arrests and executions on Antar 4 that swept up not just former Separatists but also Republic loyalists. That earned Tarkin the enmity of former intelligence agent Berch Teller, who began a campaign of sabotage against Imperial targets with the aid of the traitorous Vice Admiral Rancit. The Emperor assigned Tarkin to find those responsible, and ordered him to work with his mysterious enforcer Darth Vader -- whom Tarkin suspected was the former Anakin Skywalker. Tarkin and Vader dismantled the plot, earning Tarkin a promotion to Grand Moff and oversight of the secret Death Star project.
GALACTIC CIVIL WAR
For more than a decade, Tarkin supervised the Death Star’s construction and worked to root out resistance to Imperial rule in the galaxy’s Outer Rim. Tarkin saw the battle station’s planet-killing superlaser as a brutally efficient tool to end dissent, reasoning that no Imperial star system would dare defy the Emperor if the price was extermination. It was a philosophy shaped by his boyhood lessons on the Carrion Plateau. With the Death Star operational, the Emperor dissolved the Imperial Senate, giving governors such as Tarkin direct control of their territories. Tarkin then gave the galaxy a terrifying demonstration of the Death Star’s power, incinerating Alderaan, and tracked Princess Leia Organa to Yavin 4, site of the principal Rebel base. The end of the Galactic Civil War was at hand, but Luke Skywalker fired a proton torpedo that destroyed the Death Star -- and with it, Tarkin, who pompously refused to evacuate his prized megaweapon.
The Death Star was the Empire’s ultimate weapon: a moon-sized space station with the ability to destroy an entire planet. But the Emperor and Imperial officers like Grand Moff Tarkin underestimated the tenacity of the Rebel Alliance, who refused to bow to this technological terror…
Princess Leia Organa was one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest leaders, fearless on the battlefield and dedicated to ending the tyranny of the Empire. Daughter of Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, sister of Luke Skywalker, and with a soft spot for scoundrels, Leia ranks among the galaxy’s great heroes.
Once a heroic Jedi Knight, Darth Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force, became a Sith Lord, and led the Empire’s eradication of the Jedi Order. He remained in service of the Emperor -- the evil Darth Sidious -- for decades, enforcing his Master’s will and seeking to crush the fledgling Rebel Alliance. But there was still good in him…
Discovered as a slave on Tatooine by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker had the potential to become one of the most powerful Jedi ever, and was believed by some to be the prophesied Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. A hero of the Clone Wars, Anakin was caring and compassionate, but also had a fear of loss that would prove to be his downfall.
Scheming, powerful, and evil to the core, Darth Sidious restored the Sith and destroyed the Jedi Order. Living a double life, Sidious was in fact Palpatine, a Naboo Senator and phantom menace. He slowly manipulated the political system of the Galactic Republic until he was named Supreme Chancellor -- and eventually Emperor -- ruling the galaxy through fear and tyranny.
If ever one needed an example of the irredeemable evil that was the Empire, turn to the shattered remains of Alderaan. An influential world, Alderaan was represented in the waning days of the Republic by such venerated politicians as Bail Antilles and Bail Organa. A peaceful world, Alderaan was bereft of weaponry in an era of galactic strife. It was not without spirit, however. Alderaan was one of the earliest supporters of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, though its officials prudently kept all ties to the Rebellion secret. Despite such discretion, the Empire knew it to be a haven of Rebel activity, and Grand Moff Tarkin targeted the beautiful world for reprisal as soon as the Death Star was operational. The massive primary weapon of the battle station obliterated Alderaan, leaving only a lifeless asteroid field behind.