Anauroch, or The Great Sand Sea, is a magical desert in northern Faerûn. It holds the remnants of the once-powerful Netherese Empire, their flying enclaves having crashed to the ground nearly seventeen centuries past when their greatest mage Karsus, in a desperate bid to end the war against the phaerimm, challenged the goddess Mystryl for her divine mantle, causing the Weave to falter and all magic to fail. For generations since, Anauroch, the greatest desert in Faerûn, has encroached relentlessly on border nations, burying them beneath the sands.
The only people to call Anauroch home are the nomadic Bedine tribes and a small Zhentarim garrison, tasked with patrolling and defending a line of oases along the Black Road, the trade route that winds west from the ruins of Teshendale to Llorkh at the foot of the Graypeak Mountains. A diminutive, degenerate people called the D’tarig3 are the only other major inhabitants, who live along the borders of the desert and interact somewhat with peoples from surrounding countries.
Finally, on 20 Nightal in 1372 DR, the enclave of Thultanthar (also known as Shade) of the ancient Netherese Empire re-emerged from the Plane of Shadow in the skies above the Dire Wood, before drifting into Anauroch, settling above the Shoal of Thirst, bringing the evil and warped Shadovar into the Realms.