The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Referred to at the end of the Third Age1
Uncertain (see text)
Associated with the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr


About this entry:

  • Updated 3 June 2024
  • This entry is complete

The Questioner

The interrogator of Mordor

"We shan't hurry the enquiry."
Words of Grishnákh
from The Two Towers III 3
The Uruk-hai

A follower of Sauron who specialised in extracting information from their master's enemies. Little is known of the Questioner, who was mentioned only briefly by the Orc Grishnákh of Mordor as a threat to the Hobbits Merry and Pippin on their journey across Rohan. From what little information Grishnákh revealed, it seems that the Questioner was extremely thorough, leaving victims desperate to give up all of their secrets.

Some time before this, Gollum was captured on the borders of Mordor, and there is reason to think that he experienced the attentions of the Questioner. Gandalf suggested that he was taken into Mordor 'for examination'2, and later Gollum reveals painful memories of his time in the Dark Land.3 Though the Questioner is not specifically named in this regard, this seems to have been exactly the kind of work that we might expect to have called on their particular unpleasant talents.

Given our limited sources, it is not impossible that, rather than the Questioner being a servant of Sauron, it was instead a title for Sauron himself. Gandalf says of Sauron that, 'If he had questioned you ... almost certainly you would have told all that you know...',4 and this does seem to fit Grishnákh's description of the Questioner. Certainly Sauron had taken on this task at times when he was in the service of Morgoth, so it is perhaps not preposterous that he might have taken the role of Questioner. On the other hand, Grishnákh seems to be describing a being closer to his own rank (he says 'we' won't hurry the questioning, whereas we'd probably expect 'he' if the Orc was speaking of Sauron). It also seems somewhat implausible that the Dark Lord himself should descend to questioning prisoners taken by his Orcs (though, given the knowledge Merry and Pippin possessed about the Ring, they may have been considered a special case.)



All our evidence about the Questioner comes from a passing mention by the Orc Grishnákh. So, in terms of dating, all we can say with certainty is that the Questioner was at work during the time of the War of the Ring at the end of the Third Age. If we assume that it was the Questioner who interrogated Gollum, then we can move this date back by about a decade (Gollum was captured and taken into Mordor in the years after III 3009).

Practically speaking, it seems reasonable to assume that Sauron had employed other Questioners in the past. None are named as such, but there are hints of 'Questioning' activity in earlier times. For example, we know that Thráin was tormented while he was imprisoned in Dol Guldur (III 2845 - III 2850). Going back much further, Sauron himself acted as Questioner (or at least fulfilled a similar role) for Morgoth during the First Age (and indeed it is not impossible that the later title of 'Questioner' was in fact a title for Sauron).


The Fellowship of the Ring I 2, The Shadow of the Past


In The Two Towers IV 1, The Taming of Sméagol, Gollum drifts into a recollection of his questioning: 'Leave me alone, gollum! You hurt me. O my poor hands, gollum!' The 'you' here seems to be the Questioner, or at least somebody fulfilling an equivalent role.


The Two Towers III 11, The Palantír


About this entry:

  • Updated 3 June 2024
  • This entry is complete

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2020, 2024. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

Website services kindly sponsored by myDISCprofile, the free online personality test.
Take the FREE myDISCprofile personality test to discover your core personality and your ideal job.
The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda
Homepage Search Latest Entries and Updates Random Entry