See, here’s the thing. Sylvanus is a rather clever woman, overall.
So I ask you this: how did she miss something as huge as the betrayal of a huge number of apothecaries that, ostensibly, worked for her directly? How did she miss an entire plot designed to oust or kill her? How did she miss her own right hand demon thing plotting to take over her position in order to carry out the will of the Burning Legion?
I propose that she didn’t miss any of that.
I propose that she was very well aware of all of it.
I propose that she planned all of it.
Consider first the direct consequences of the Undercity Battle.
Let’s say Sylvanus was in charge of the weaponized plague used at the Wrathgate from the start. Let’s say all those “rogue” apothecaries were working for her all along.
What’s the easiest way to prevent all those people from ever telling their story? Why, brand them traitors and kill them all of course.
What’s the easiest way to do that without casting any suspicion on yourself? Why, get someone else to brand them all traitors, and then get someone else to kill them all for you.
Bonus points: what is the best way to test how a given fortification would hold up in a siege?
The answer is, of course, to lay siege to it.
Sylvanus got to experience both what an internal infiltration and an external invasion would look like. Not a small scale, war games invasion either, but huge, full fledged armies battling it out. And she got to see all of that first hand.
Meaning, of course, she can now make modifications and adjustments to the city, having experienced first hand the city’s strengths and weaknesses against multiple forms of invasion.
Consider second that Sylvanus, like any good leader, looks beyond her own personal vendettas. Her primary stated goal is, of course, to see the end of the Lich King.
Explain, then, the massive, imperialistic expansions of the Forsaken these past few years if their only goal is to revengeance the Lich King. Sylvanus knows that the Lich King won’t last forever, that someday he will be extinguished, and then… what? What then?
Sylvanus is in a similar position as the scourge in my last wild speculation post.
Nobody likes the undead. Their enemies misunderstand them and will kill them on sight. Their allies are mistrusting, fair weather friends at absolute best. What happens when the proverbial excrement hits the proverbial fan? For the forsaken, it means they’ll be in a hostile world, surrounded by enemies with no friends.
Solution? Exactly the same thing as the Scourge – make yourself appear to be less of a threat than you really are.
Enter the Battle for the Undercity, stage left.
Sylvanus lost her city, “nearly died”, and then was in such a weak position she couldn’t take back what was hers on her own. She had to go to Orgrimmar and ask, nay, beg for help.
Do you see how incredibly weak that makes her look? Especially to the likes of Garrosh.
By allowing the Undercity to fall, Sylvanus simultaneously places more mistrust on her own people and makes them appear to be a significantly weaker friend/foe.
The reason why more mistrust is good for the forsaken is because it forces the horde to keep a much closer eye on them. All the abomination guards are gone from the Undercity, and replaced with orcs.
Obviously a good move on the part of the greater horde. Placing their own troops in the undercity rather than letting them guard themselves means the greater horde can keep much tighter control over the actions of the forsaken.
Unless, of course, that’s exactly what Sylvanus wants them to think they’re doing.
First major advantage, by allowing the horde to think they have greater control over the situation, they naturally become far less suspicious. If strange things were going on, the guards are right there and would have seen it, right?
Right, of course.
The relative threat level of the forsaken is simply lower. With legions of orc troops in the undercity, the greater horde can rest easy that the Undercity is firmly controlled.
Essentially, Sylvanus has proven to the greater horde that the forsaken aren’t a substantial military threat anymore. This is an unimaginably huge advantage.
It’s gone now, but there was a screenshot showing the forsaken invasion of London (or whatever that werewolf place is called). It showed the forsaken fleet and… the horde gunship?
Again, major win for the forsaken. The forsaken get to keep right on expanding their empire with their mighty military, but the rest of the horde is blinded to it. And lending their military to the forsaken to directly assist them to boot.
Classic strategy, really. The greater horde thinks they’re in control, never realizing just how thoroughly they’re being used, the entire time playing directly into the best interests of the forsaken.
GG, Sylvanus, GG.