- "Tarik is a hard man, proud and capable but ambitious. And he admires my father greatly."
- ―Suleiman I, on Tarik's behavior.[src]
Tarik Barleti (1470 – 1511), born Skender Barleti, was the Captain of the Janissaries in the early 16th century, during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II. He was well known for his prowess as a leader, his admiration for Prince Selim I, as well as his hatred for Prince Ahmet.
In 1511, Tarik devised a plot meant to eliminate the remnants of the Byzantine Empire from where they hid, feigning allegiance with them to discover their base. Plotting in secrecy, Tarik was able to form an agreement with the former Byzantine heir and Templar, Manuel Palaiologos, and from there, he began his plan to eradicate the Sultan's long-standing enemies.
As captain of the Sultanate's most powerful fighters, Tarik was as able a warrior as he was arrogant, and he led the Janissaries with an iron fist. Though stoic and somewhat cruel, Tarik was a man of honor, valuing strength, skill and logic above most other virtues.
- "This Empire is sick, and Bayezid – it pains me to say – is its cancer."
- ―Tarik Barleti, regarding the Ottoman Empire's state.[src]
Tarik was born under the name of Skender Barleti in 1470. A Christian Albanian, he was the second eldest son of an impoverished family, in which he had four brothers and three sisters. His previous life was made irrelevant when the Ottoman's Devshirme system levied him into their ranks, and he eventually became one of the Janissaries.
As one of the Sultanate's elite soldiers, Tarik became extremely loyal to the Ottoman Empire, and after some time, he became the Janissaries' Captain. By then, his admiration for Prince Selim and his hatred for Selim's brother Ahmet became very well known among his peers, and other noteworthy figures of the Empire.
Though loyal to the Sultan, Tarik expressed great anger when Bayezid appointed Ahmet as his successor. As Captain, Tarik's word had a significant influence on his subordinates, resulting in most of the Janissaries sharing his opinion of the two princes. Many Janissaries also came to believe that Bayezid had become a weak sovereign.
Also during his time as captain, Tarik released a lady of the Sultan's harem, Dilara, out of kindness and a desire for her affections. Though Dilara did not return his feelings for her – which became a source of grief for him in his later years – Tarik nevertheless continued to work with her, tasking Dilara with reconnaissance missions.
Failure at Topkapı
- Ahmet: "If you had a hand in this mess, Tarik, you have made a grave mistake. My father has chosen me as the next Sultan, not my brother."
- Tarik: "Ahmet, I am not depraved enough to imagine the conspiracy you accuse me of."
- —Ahmet and Tarik, just after Suleiman left their company.[src]
In 1511, after a failed attack on Selim's son, Prince Suleiman I, at Topkapı Palace, Tarik met with Suleiman and Ahmet in private. There, Tarik offered to lead the investigation on the attack, though Suleiman said that he would, due to Tarik being a possible suspect. After a brief meeting with Ahmet, where Tarik openly admitted his dislike for the Prince, Tarik left the palace and returned to patrol the city.
Unbeknownst to Tarik, Suleiman had tasked the Assassin Ezio Auditore with the job of investigating him and his activities, due to his failure to defend the palace during the assassination attempt. From then on, Ezio tailed Tarik in secret, starting at the Grand Bazaar, where he and his men usually spent their time.
Plot against the Templars
- Janissary: "Everything is falling into place, efendim (my Lord)."
- Tarik: "Evet. (Yes.) For once."
- —Tarik and a Janissary, after receiving a letter from Manuel.[src]
Some time after the Topkapı attack, Tarik had several firearms prepared to be shipped to a Templar base, as part of a deal with Byzantine leader Manuel Palaiologos, in exchange for a large sum of money. Meeting at Constantinople, Tarik gave Manuel access to the arsenal in order to retrieve the cargo. Afterwards, the Janissary captain and the soldiers that accompanied him returned to their camp, where Tarik awaited more news regarding the shipment.
On eventually receiving a message from Manuel's forces that stated the firearms had arrived in Cappadocia, it came accompanied by a map to the Byzantine base, in order to allow Tarik's own men to join them. With a few of Tarik's spies amongst the Byzantines, they expected to receive word once Manuel's forces had decamped, and planned to ambush them once they had reached Bursa.
- Ezio: "He was loyal to your grandfather to the end, and through his efforts we have the means to save your city."
- Suleiman: "Ah, Tarik. He should not have been so secretive. What a terrible way to do a good thing."
- —Ezio and Suleiman, regarding Tarik's death.[src]
Unbeknownst to Tarik, Ezio Auditore – disguised as a Janissary – eavesdropped on his meeting within the Janissary camp. After learning of the Byzantine's locations, Ezio assassinated Tarik, under the orders of Suleiman, due to the Assassin believing him to be guilty of treason.
In his final moments, Tarik confided with Ezio about his plans against the Byzantine Templars, revealing his scheduled ambush by handing him a parchment that detailed the location of the Templars. Tarik blamed himself for his own pride, though he had faith that Ezio would see his plan through to the end. Asking Ezio to destroy the Templars for the sake of his homeland, Tarik passed away.
Suleiman was later informed of the Captain's untimely death by Ezio, and immediately felt guilty over his hasty judgement. He then instructed Ezio to finish Tarik's plot against the Templars, using the information that he had gained from his investigations.
Tarik's death also affected the reputation of Prince Ahmet. Due to Tarik's quarrel with Ahmet a little before his death, the Janissaries had suspected the prince as the mastermind behind their captain's assassination. While conducting an investigation on Tarik's murder, the Janissaries had the Great Chain over the Golden Horn raised, and would only lower it once the murderer had been detained.
After destroying the Great Chain to depart for the Templar base, Ezio arrived at Cappadocia with Piri Reis by March of 1512. There, he met with Dilara, and managed to destroy the Templar city, assassinating Manuel Palaiologos in the process.
Personality and characteristics
- Janissary 1: "Did you hear? [Ahmet] offered Tarik a sum of money in exchange for our loyalty."
- Janissary 2: "God damn him. What did Tarik do?"
- Janissary 1: "He spent half the money on horse feed and sent the rest to Selim!"
- —Two Janissaries talking about Tarik's distrust for Ahmet.[src]
At an early age, Tarik excelled in combat, and was able to endure the Janissaries' extremely rigorous training. In time, he had forgotten about his life before being levied, and began to show unwavering loyalty to the Ottoman Empire, with his skill and loyalty eventually granting him the position of Captain.
As Captain, Tarik was a proud and ambitious man, matched by his capability. Valuing law and order, Tarik enforced the city rules through any means, which were often cruel towards the people. This resulted in most civilians hating him and his men, though subsequently earning them the respect of most authority figures.
Due to the political rights that the Janissaries held, Tarik was free to speak his mind about political matters, and whenever he spoke, he would be frank and direct about his opinion to most his comrades. His revelations of his honest opinions led to him being suspected of treason by Suleiman.
Tarik valued strength of mind and body above words and doctrine. He often cited logic as his basis on judgment of character, as evidenced by his opinion on both of the Ottoman Empire's viable Sultan successors. Tarik also admired boldness and skill, as evidenced by his infatuation with Dilara.
Barleti was also a man of cunning and strategy, as was seen in his planned ambush for the Byzantines. However, he was also very secretive about his ploys, only discussing his plans to his closest subordinates and men. Unfortunately, such secrecy resulted in his death, as his actions led Prince Suleiman to the conclusion that he was a traitor. He regretted this in his last moments and accepted full blame for his hubris.
- In the novelization of Revelations, the circumstances of Tarik's death were slightly different, as Ezio confronted him directly.
- In the memory "Honor, Lost and Won", if Ezio approached Tarik unarmed while he observed the sparring Janissaries, Tarik would start a duel with Ezio, instead of ordering his men to attack. In the fight, Tarik would have three times the health and endurance of a regular Janissary.
- Should Tarik be injured, some Janissaries would intervene in the fight, either by confronting Ezio or pushing him, leaving him vulnerable to an attack.
- Tarik is an alternative transliteration of Arabic طارق, Tariq, which is the name for the morning star, meaning "he who knocks at the door."
- In combat, Tarik's behavior was identical to a regular Janissary.