Snowpuff examines Tallstar’s difficult decision – who should he have chosen as deputy?
The debate with Mudclaw and Onestar was a major and memorable event in the Warriors books. Right before his last breath, former Windclan leader Tallstar replaced his current deputy with the at-the-time warrior, Onewhisker. Mudclaw then led a rebellion to get back his position of deputy, but ended up losing his life in the process. Onestar then became leader, but an utterly terrible one, and a contemptible father at that. Despite how events unfolded, it is commonly accepted that Mudclaw should have become leader. This may be true, but it should be noted that neither would have been an exact good choice. Tallstar was stuck in a dilemna, where there was no good choice. He chose what he thought would be best, but he chose wrong. However, there was no forseeable way for him to know that, or Onestar’s true nature. These two cats should not have been leader.
Onestar is one of the most hated cats in the fandom, which is understandable. He is disloyal, cruel, neglectful, and a disloyal mate at that. Overall, not who you would want to make leader. But this ill was shown back when he was a warrior. The Onestar we knew as Onewhisker was not as harsh as this. Tallstar had no way of knowing this at the time, but if he knew, I doubt Onestar would have been chosen. What made Onestar unfit to rule was how power went to his head. He would have been a fine warrior, but not a fine leader,
Mudclaw is the better choice, undoubtedly. But, I do not believe he should have been leader either. Now, I do believe he was a good cat. A brave and noble warrior, and a good deputy. But he should have stayed as deputy, and not have become leader. This is for two reasons, starting with how gullible he was. He was coerced into trying to take over Windclan as leader by Hawkfrost. Hawkfrost was a cat with a bad reputation at that time, and later shown to be a villain. Mudclaw trusting him blindly was a bad sign for him as leader. Another feature of him was that he was implied to be xenophobic towards other clans. Windclan had just built a strong alliance with Thunderclan, and Tallstar wanted to preserve that. He noted that Mudclaw may have broken that alliance, so he attempted to depose of Mudclaw.
It seems there was not much Tallstar could have done. But, there was one chance in his final moment he overlooked: Ashfoot. A caring and motherly cat, she was appointed by Onestar to be the deputy. She does a decent job as deputy, not being power hungry or overly aggresive. She would have likely been a much better choice compared to Mudclaw or Onestar. Had Tallstar chosen her, perhaps the alliance between Thunderclan and Windclan would have lasted.
Overall, I believe that Tallstar made the wrong choice, but he is not at fault. He knew that Mudclaw was a fierce warrior, but an unfit leader. He had no way of knowing what Onestar would become, and he did not know Ashfoot all that well. In his mind, he was stuck with a dillemna that had only two choices. A lose-lose situation, he chose Onestar and gladly died before he could see the concequences. Tallstar devoted his life to the clan, and died trying to do what was right. His legacy, despite his wrong choice, remains nearly untouched by it as he went down in reader’s minds as a noble and dedicated leader who viewed his own clan as his kits.