Tantarian is an optional boss in Final Fantasy IX. It can be found in Alexandria Castle's library, but there are only two chances to fight it: during the time the party is rescuing Garnet who is being held in the castle basement, and later when the party arrives to save Garnet and Eiko during the Battle of Alexandria. If the player misses out on these two opportunities, Tantarian cannot be encountered again.
It's a challenge to face Tantarian the first time the battle is available, because his highly damaging attacks can weaken the party quickly. In addition, battling him then eats away at the 30-minute time limit imposed on the party for finding Garnet in Alexandria Castle's basement.
Tantarian can be found by examining the book case on the left in the library. Though often referred to as a boss, the boss battle music will not play, and the party will be rewarded with EXP. There is a moogle in the Knights' Guardhouse to save the game before attempting the battle, but only during the second chance to fight it.
The battle begins with Tantarian inside the book. Physical attacks will open a page, the page number being the cumulative damage it has taken from the party. Tantarian opening is considered a counter attack and Tantarian is generally found between pages 150–200. However, because of the "can't counter a counter" rule, Tantarian will not open in reaction to a player's counter attack, despite its page number being updated internally.
Tantarian's defense is high while hiding within the book. When out of the book, Tantarian's defense drops, but physical attacks will cause it to retreat in the book. Tantarian's deadliest attack is Paper Storm, which inflicts hundreds of points of damage to all party members, though it can only be used while it is inside the book.
When Tantarian opens, it can only attack using Poison, which can easily be nullified by equipping Antibody. When Tantarian is open, the player should only use magical attacks, such as Bio and Fira with Vivi, and Sword Magic with Steiner; physical attacks will close it.
Tantarian is weak to Fire damage, and Zidane's Thievery is also effective because it ignores Tantarian's high defense. Tantarian will automatically close after a few rounds, meaning the player may have to find him several times before defeating him, depending on how much damage their characters can deal out.
It's possible to steal the Demon's Mail armor from Tantarian, a very powerful piece of equipment early on, but the armor is notoriously difficult to steal. It may take a few reloaded saves to successfully steal it.
Strategy for the first chance to fight Tantarian
Before engaging into battle with Tantarian all characters should be equipped with Antibody and make use of the Alexandrian guards outside the hall just before the library. When battling the guards the player should use Freya or Zidane to attack Steiner to take down his HP, then defeat the guards and open the menu, use Potions to heal Steiner until he is 150-200 damage off his max HP.
For example, if Steiner had 1000 HP the player will be wanting to aim for 800-850. The reason is because Tantarian is located on pages 150-200 in battle; by Steiner having the HP difference, his Sword Art Minus Strike will deal damage equivalent to the HP difference he is away from his max HP.
Any inflicted damage above 200 gets added to the current page number, then subtracted by 200, and the remainder is counted as the page the book opens at. I.e.: 320 damage = (320 - 200) = 120, so the book would open at page 120. If another 100 damage was then inflicted: ((120 + 100) - 200) = (220 - 200) = 20, so the page number would become 20. In both cases, the book page is not between 150 and 200, so Tantarian will not appear for the party to attack.
When the fight begins, the player should use Minus Strike with Steiner, and the book will open to reveal Tantarian. Zidane can steal and Vivi use Fira. When it comes to Steiner's second turn, the player should use Fira Sword to inflict thousands of points of Fire damage (Tantarian will not close due to Steiner's attacks, because Fira Sword is considered a magic attack), and keep stealing with Zidane and keep using Fira with Vivi. Freya should be on standby to use Ethers on Steiner and Vivi if they run low on MP.
After about six turns Tantarian will revert to his book form; at this stage the player must make sure to have Steiner on standby to immediately use Minus Strike when he changes, not afterwards, to reveal Tantarian again; at no point during this battle should any healing be done (this includes Freya using Reis's Wind) since Tantarian should never have the opportunity to inflict damage. Once Zidane has stolen all items of interest from Tantarian, he should become the standby character ready to use Ethers, and Freya should switch to using Lancer to inflict moderate damage each turn.
Strategy for the second chance to fight Tantarian
The party members will be Zidane, Vivi, Amarant, and Freya.
It helps if each character have these additions:
- Freya: Reis' Wind and Devil Killer.
- Zidane: Bandit and Devil Killer.
- Amarant: Devil Killer, Chakra and Revive. Amarant should not equip Counter.
- Vivi: Fira and Slow.
The party should begin the fight by attacking with all characters including Vivi. The goal is to get Tantarian open as soon as possible without attacking physically an extra time and having Tantarian close again. The player should keep track of how much each party member does.
When Tantarian is open, Amarant can revive any character that may have died and Freya cast Reis' Wind if the party has been damaged, but the party should take no damage this round. Zidane should keep stealing, and Vivi use Focus during the open phase.
Casting Slow helps keep Tantarian open as well as allowing the party to possibly get through a closed phase without taking damage or getting Doom cast on any members, but is not necessary. As Freya's and Vivi's MP drops through the fight, Chakra can be used to keep up their MP as Amarant will be useless during the open phases.
Zidane can easily keep stealing. The party should only take damage in the closed phase once or twice depending on the party's ATB. It is worth stopping stealing during closed phases to get Tantarian open faster. After the player is done stealing, or if they decide not to steal, they can simply follow the regular strategy of burning Tantarian down with Fira.
Dantalion is a Grand duke of Hell, who, according to Goetic demonology, is often portrayed as a book-carrying demon affiliated with the arts and sciences.
In the French localization this enemy is called Lovecraft, most likely a reference to the author H.P. Lovecraft.
- Tantarian resembles the enemy Page 64 from Final Fantasy V. The image on the front cover is also based on the enemy Page 256, the picture on the back cover is based on Page 128, and Page 32 can be seen on its spine. An image of the Goblin can be seen inside its covers.
- Tantarian is one of the few enemies in the game that drops a piece of equipment; in this case the Running Shoes add-on. Another example is the Friendly Yan that drops a Rosetta Ring if defeated rather than appeased.