In Final Fantasy IV, it’s easy to dismiss Tellah as the hot-headed and senile old man he claims to be. Tellah is on his own quest to rescue his daughter, Anna, from the hateful bard who whisked her away. Possessed of a handful of basic spells, Tellah can’t navigate the Underground Waterway on his own, and so he requires help. One might easily see this weakness as a flaw in his character, but his passion could be seen as a far greater flaw.
Tellah’s passion leads him far from Cecil and his friends. Not only does he swear revenge, he seeks out the ultimate black magic, Meteor, so he can crush Golbez once and for all. He travels to Mount Ordeals in the hopes of permanently recalling his spells and the long-forgotten Meteor, and it’s here that he’s reunited with Cecil who hopes to recall something of himself as well. Together, they climb the mountain, and in a mirror-lined room at the top, a light calls out to Cecil and transforms him into a Paladin. This same light allows Tellah to recall his old spells.
In Final Fantasy, knowledge isn’t the only requirement for casting magic. Strength is needed as well, and Tellah sorely lacks in the strength department. Not only do his physical stats actually decrease as he gains levels, but his magic power doesn’t increase either, keeping the powerful Meteor’s high MP cost outside his reach during normal gameplay. When the Elder of Mysidia warns Tellah casting Meteor will destroy him, but Tellah brushes him off, still consumed by his need for revenge.
Driven to revenge, propelled by his love for his daughter, Tellah finally gets the chance to confront Golbez at the top of the Tower of Zot. He attacks using the most powerful spells in his arsenal, but not Meteor, perhaps because he truly doesn’t wish to end his life for his need to destroy. Regardless, Golbez taunts Tellah as his spells prove weak at best. Exhausted, Tellah puts the last of his life energy into casting Meteor. Fire rains from the heavens, and Golbez is weakened considerably, but not destroyed. Tellah’s story is almost at an end, and during his final moments, he shows regret for acting out in anger and being consumed by his need for revenge. Tellah dies, as some characters must (as all characters must), and the Final Fantasy IV continues without him, but without forgetting him.
It’s hard to say if Tellah had stayed along for the journey if he could’ve been useful. In The After Years, the sequel to Final Fantasy IV, Tellah’s sacrifice and memory serves Edward to find happiness and provides a goal for Palom to become a Sage. Sadly, memories are all he has left to give.