"Macanti" (the plural form being identical with the singular) is a common Tharian derogatory term refering to people, who try to make others believe that they are endowed with magical powers, either natural ones or acquired, without offical acknowledgement. Mostly in fact there actually don't exist any magical powers at such people, which hold a closer investigation, although there are some exceptions. "Magical powers" can be seen here in the vague sense of the words, ranging from direct medical help through body contact, to selling (fake) healing potions until playing tricks in general in front of an audience. Mostly Macanti are not much more than swindlers, trying to gain profit. Other terms to describe the Macanti are charlatan, mountebanks or quacksalver. The term "Macanti" either derives directly from the Tharian "mage", or from a fake healer known as Maccân, who lived sometime in the third century a.S.
Description. As "Macanti" is a derogative term, it fails to discern the two groups of quasi-mages - those, who actually aren't magically talented at all and those who are: the money-makers and swinlders and those with dilettantish magical skills, the so-called Gifted.
Macanti, as people who pretend to be endowed with magical powers in the one way or the other, can be usally described as very cunning persons - people who aren't, will probably end up in a moist dungeon very soon, which is more a sign of stupidity. Macanti on the other hand mostly know precisily what they are doing and how far they can go in order to make others believe that their abilities are original and rare, and - of course - that using these abilities needs to be paid for. Indeed a Macanti's ultimate goal can be in general simply described as: make quick money. For this they need people to believe in them, first to show confidence, then to pay for items or services. In order to achieve this, the Macanti's approaches may differ, depending on what he or she intends to convince the audiences with. Macanti also know when to stop, sensing that the confidence of the people is not strong enough to support them, and very often you will find them disappear as soon as they have shown up. You will barely find Macanti staying for a longer period of time at one place, except for those, who actually believe in what they are doing, and these are pretty rare.
On the other hand it shouldn't be forgotten that there are indeed people here and there, who have a tendency towards magical or also religious things if you might say so. There are tales, probably in every province of the Santharian realm, of people, who know of things they can't possibly know at all, of people, who see things (whether of the past or of the future), or of people, who can move items without touching them. Not always are these "gifts" further investigated, and not all Gifted end up in the Magical Academy in Ximax or at one of its branches, especially if these people lack the money to get properly educated in the ways of magic. Nevertheless, many of these people find ways to utilize their intuitive abilities, unless they see them as curse. The latter also isn't uncommon among the superstituous lower classes of Santharian society, but those who learn to deal with their uncommon powers may often be asked to help others or perform for them, or they might try to make profit with their gift by themselves.
find both varieties of Macanti on a crowded marketplace, doing disappearing
tricks, make hands glow or start little fireworks. You might also see them
selling potions, ballyhooing "enchanted" amulets and prophecying the future. Or
you might pick up strange stories about people with some sort of unexplainable
"gift" at the next inn you're visiting - some of these things you can hear there
could be exaggerated, others not. It is often very difficult to decide what kind
of person a Macanti actually is if you come across one in your travels, so it is
definitely advised to be cautious when associating with any of these persons.
Myth/Lore. It isn't known for sure where the Tharian term "Macanti" originates from. Some scholars, versed in Tharian etymology, prefer the version that "Macanti" is a twisted word for "Mage" or "Magician". They claim that people of the first centuries after Santhros may have refered to pseudo-mages often as "Magacans" or "Magkacks" (note the very rough, originally dwarven word "kack" for "extrements" contained here). In the course of time the usage of these words could have led to the development of a new, shorter term like "Macak" and finally "Macant", being more a diminuitve term than a swear word eventually. It is also plausible that the scholarly renaissance in the early 9th century, which had an effect in some modifications of the Tharian tongue, could have added the more intellectual sounding plural "i", thus completing the word to the current version, "Macanti". However, this plural form should from now on also be used in the singular for some reason, probably because the public had problems with this new plural which the more intellectual people perfered. However, this is just a theory of course.
Another possibility, which is more broadly accepted, is the linking of the word "Macanti" to Maccân of Klinsor, a dubious Manthrian healer to say the least. Though the researcher, the Nethorian cleric Quaniung, who wrote the most detailed analysis on Maccân, is seen himself as a quite questionable figure today, he was at least a contemporary of Maccân, the self-assigned "healer-mage". Quaniung's admittedly very subjective statements should suffice though for our purposes to illustrate the typical Macanti. Here's what Quaniung wrote about Maccân:
"By the Twelve and the Horned One! This
weirdling indeed brings the sick first, who aren't sick at all, to make them healthy again, and then
he makes the healthy poor! I can't believe it, if I hadn't seen it myself!
- Well, to understand my anger, picture this:
Well, it is
reported that Quaniung warned people everywhere from this Maccân of Klinsor and
finally tried to hunt him down himself when the Manthrian administration
failed to get hold of him. If he succeeded is not known, at least the above - not
very scholarly written - text remained the last productive contribution of
Quaniung for the Nehtorian Community in Marcogg. Rumour has it, that Quaniung
either was dispatched by his adversary or that he even teamed up with Maccân and
left Manthria to make a fortune with such
practises somewhere else (that's what very mean thinking people say).
What has remained of Quaniung, however, is this fervent article he wrote. It was not only published in the Nehtorian Community Yearbook of 289, but found its way also to the streets and taverns to serve as a warning of the practices stated therein. And from there it is supposed, that the term "Macanti" eventually originated.
Information provided by Artimidor Federkiel