Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Interesting Exchange I had With a Reporter About Gail Gygax - Soon to Be a "Story" I am Sure

I woke to the following on Thursday, sent to my Facebook Page:

Thursday morning

Hi Erik. I'm a reporter with MAJOR GEEK WEBSITE who covers Dungeons & Dragons. I hope you're well.

I'm reaching out because I'm reporting a story about Gary Gygax's legacy and Gail Gygax. I was hoping we could set up a time for an interview sometime in the next week--I know this is a topic you follow closely. Let me know what you think. My e-mail is REPORTER@MAJORGEEKWEBSITE

(I was wary from the start, as a quick Google search of REPORTER didn't show a preponderance of balanced articles and as a retired law enforcement officer, I have an innate distrust of reporters and lawyers. But I was willing to be open-minded)

My initial email to REPORTER

Before I agree to be interviewed I'd like to know the method of the interview (email, phone, skype, discord, etc) as well as some details of the direction of the questions if not the questions themselves in advance.

For what its worth, the EGG Revocable Trust and the Gygax Memorial Fund are two vastly separate entities - the first controls the IP and is in Gail's hands and is a private matter between Gail and whoever she may license the IP to. The GMF is a Not For Profit and is subject to public scrutiny. Gail gets testy when folks forget the difference.

My focus of interest has been on the GMF.

Erik Tenkar

(The above distinctions were important for me to make. Many folks discuss the Trust and the Fund as if they are sibling entities and governed by similar rules. Gail was insistent in our early discussions to remind folks of the difference and I did. The IP is controlled by Gail via the Trust. End of story)


Thanks so much for getting back. I'd be grateful if we could speak over the phone. My questions will regard your blog, Gen Con, the Gygax Memorial Fund, the legacy of Gary's IP and Gail. Hope that helps! Are you available at all today or Monday?

Very best,

(Why Gen Con? I haven't been to Gen Con in over 25 years. Notice how the deeper I dig, the greater the number of topics to be discussed)

Fri, Feb 1, 8:17 PM (5 days ago)

I don't see how I can add anything to the conversation that hasn't already been shared on the blog.

I haven't been to Gen Con in 25 years, don't post about Gary's IP aside from what's in the news (licensing & lawsuits) and my posts on the GMF and conversations with Gail are available on the blog for all to read.

I'll have to politely decline the offer to be interviewed. It would be a waste of time for both of us.

I do wish you luck with your article.

Erik Tenkar

(My first attempt to decline to be interviewed. REPORTER is insistent and to be honest, I was curious about the rabbit hole this would lead.)

Mon, Feb 4, 10:27 AM (2 days ago)
to me

Thanks for getting back, Erik. I do have some specific questions to ask you because I will be referencing you and your blog in the article a couple of times. Also, I apologize, but I misspoke--I have questions about Gary Con, not Gen Con. I'd be so grateful for just fifteen or thirty minutes of your time sometime today or tomorrow.


(AH, Gary Con, not Gen Con. Could be a simple mistake or intentional misdirection. She mentions she'll be quoting The Tavern. Now I need to know more. Still leaning towards declining to be interviewed, but can't make such decisions without full knowledge. My response follows)

Feb 4, 2019, 6:19 PM (2 days ago)

Before I agree to be interviewed I would like a list of the questions to be asked as well as links to the blog posts you intend to reference.

There are nearly 8,000 posts at tenkarstavern.com and it will be impossible for me to discuss specific posts that you may refer to without prior knowledge of said posts.

I'd like a list of questions up front so I can properly prepare for an interview that is expected to last as long as half an hour.

I thank you in advance,


Feb 5, 2019, 3:20 PM (20 hours ago)
to me

Sure, no problem. Here's a list of blog posts containing information I may reference:  thisthisthisthisthisthisthisthis and this. You've been very, very diligent!

As for questions, here's what I'll be asking you:

- General questions about your background and interest in role-playing games.
- What inspired you to start reporting on Gary's legacy?
- What initially sparked your skepticism about the way Gail is handling Gary's legacy?
- Asking you generally about your insight into Gary's children's initial plans for handling Gary's legacy.
- Asking you generally about Gary Con and your experiences of it.
- What are your views on the way the memorial statue project has been handled?
- What are your views on Gail discontinuing the publication of some of Gary's IP?
- What are your views on the Fig video game initiative?
- What are your views on Gygax magazine and its closing?
- What are your views on Tom DeSanto's lawsuit?

I hope this helps. If a half hour is too long for you, I can keep things brief, but I do find that phone interviews are far superior to text interviews when it comes to discerning a source's exact meaning and fact-checking.

Thanks again.

Very best,

("Legacy" is defined as "an amount of money or property left to someone in a will." This is what Gary left to Gail via the Trust. Again, the rights to Gary's unpublished works are controlled by Gail. That was Gary's wishes. The Fund is a not-for-profit and is open to public scrutiny and is NOT Gary's legacy.)

Feb 5, 2019, 8:04 PM (16 hours ago)

I won't be able to answer your questions as I don't report on Gary's legacy. His legacy is his IP, and except when it comes up in the news I don't mention it. Gary left it to Gail via the Trust and that is that.

I have no insights into Gary's children and their plans for their father's legacy. Again, the IP was left solely to Gail.

My thoughts on the memorial you've already read. There is nothing for me to add.

I respectfully decline to be interviewed.

Erik Tenkar

9:34 AM (2 hours ago)
to me

Got it. Because we'll be referring to you and characterizing your blog in our article, I will be reaching out for comment at a later date with specific questions, to which I hope you will respond.

Very best,

("Characterizing your blog in our article". Interesting. Let's look at the definition of "Characterizing": "to describe the distinctive nature or features of" - interesting, huh? So, The Tavern is going to be labeled as __________ fill in the blank.

It appears obvious to me that the story in question is less about Gary and his "legacy" and more about Gail Gygax. Judging from the reporter's past work, I doubt it will be critiquing Gail all that much. Gee, wonder hat the angle could be? Add your thoughts below.)


  1. Oy. I hope it's not a hatchet job.

  2. I do hope we can see your rebuttle on the site when the article gets posted and the 3-400 words get posted. I'm putting dibs on this being on Polygon or Forbes.

  3. It's DEFINITELY a hatchet job. Good job, Erik.

  4. I do not know the reporter and their past work, but as a journalist (though for a different medium in a different country) I can say that trying to get the guy behind a page for a fresh interview is usually far more thorough than just quoting his (partly old?) statements on his site. Don't know if this is the reason behind this, but it might be.
    And even a pro-Gail article CAN be fair to critics by just taking the criticism and giving her space to respond (not the cleanest approach, but it's simply not necessary to smear the critics and leave the article vulnerable through that when you can just have your favourite have the last word).
    Oh, and it might be that "legacy" was used here colloquially in the sense of "all that he has left behind", i.e. games, memories, cultural impact, etc, but as a non-native speaker, I'm not putting any money on this.

  5. I am a native speaker, and I suspect you're correct about the meaning of the word "legacy" in this instance. I don't think she meant it in the legal sense.

    That said, I agree with Tenkar's decision not to be interviewed. There's pretty much no upside to it 90% of the time, and a lot of potential pain in the ass.

  6. Definition of legacy aside, I mentioned to her that I don't discuss the IP except as it is newsworthy. The majority of those proposed questions are asking me my opinions on the handling of issues regarding the IP. I'm not sharing those for an article when I don't even share them on the blog itself.

  7. Unfortunately, I'm left guessing without details. But, given the trend of "games journalism" on the "major geek websites", I don't blame you one bit for declining.


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