|“||The Pilgrimage proves we are willing to give of ourselves for the greater good. What does it say about me if I turn my back on this?||„|
|~ Tali, to Shepard.|
Tali'Zorah vas Normandy nar Rayya is one of the major characters of the original Mass Effect video game trilogy, including the remaster Legendary Edition.
She is a quarian engineer who Commander Shepard originally meets when she is on her Pilgrimage and becomes a member of the Normandy crew.
Tali holds the distinction of being one of only two squad members available in all three games, the other being Garrus Vakarian.
She is voiced by Ash Sroka (credited as Liz Sroka in the first two games).
Tali debuts in Mass Effect where, after a dealing with the Shadow Broker goes wrong, she is recruited by Commander Shepard and joins them to help take down rogue turian Spectre Saren Arterius while attempting to complete her pilgrimage, a quarian rite of passage into adulthood. During a mission to halt geth incursions, she requests for Shepard to give a copy of the geth data to complete her pilgrimage, to which the Commander accepts her request and she will thank Shepard, saying that she will continue to follow Shepard to stop Saren.
In Mass Effect 2, Tali reunites with Shepard while the latter is investigating the Collector attacks on human colonies, with her later rejoining the Normandy crew after Shepard rescues her from a geth attack on Haestrom. In her loyalty mission, she's accused of betraying the Quarian Migrant Fleet. As Tali's captain, Shepard must clear her name in order to prevent her from being banished from the fleet.
In Mass Effect 3 (if she survived the Suicide Mission), Tali plays a major role in the war between the geth and the quarians, and which side Shepard supports in the end, will determine if she lives and makes it to the final battle on Earth.
|“||Shepard, if I don't wear a helmet in my own home, I'll die! A single kiss could put me in the hospital! Every time you touch a flower with bare fingers, inhale its fragrance without air filters, you're doing something I can't!||„|
|~ Tali lamenting over her many limitations as a quarian|
Even by Quarian standards, Tali is an absolute genius when it comes to mechanics, a trait she has since her introduction. Alliance Chief Engineer, Lieutenant Gregory Adams, is extremely impressed by her knowledge, wishing his crew were half as smart as Tali. They often work together to disassemble any abandoned technology, such as old orbital probes that the Normandy's survey missions discover. However, Tali is initially quite naive, as evident by the fact that she turned to the Shadow Broker for help after being shot, which resulted in her getting double-crossed by Fist.
Shepard can chat with Tali about her fascination with starship technology and the SSV Normandy's unique design, especially the enormous drive core. Having lived on the Migrant Fleet for her whole life until her Pilgrimage, Tali initially has trouble adapting to the Normandy. At first, Tali is very excited about being on board the most advanced warship of the Alliance Navy, but she soon begins having problems. She can't sleep because she's not used to a ship that runs so quietly (to a Quarian, a quiet ship means a dead engine or worse, a malfunctioning air filter). She also says that compared to the crowded conditions of the Migrant Fleet, the Normandy feels disturbingly empty, saying "it's like half the crew is missing". Despite this uneasy start, she manages to adjust over time and becomes much more cheerful. Tali enjoys visiting the crowded, noisy Wards on the Citadel because they feel like home, and she particularly likes the music in Flux, hoping to take a copy back to the Flotilla. When she's brought back on board the Normandy in Mass Effect 2, she has no trouble getting used to the quiet again, even admitting that she likes it.
Despite the discrimination she suffers as a Quarian, Tali is easily one of, if not the, most kind-hearted members of Shepard's crew, always showing compassion to those who need it. She never hesitates to help out or stand up for one of her kind, which is especially shown when she stands up for fellow quarian Lia'Vael nar Ulnay, who was being racially harassed by both a Volus (who falsely accused her of theft) and a human C-Sec officer (who threatened to arrest her for vagrancy) whilst on her Pilgrimage. However, she's also deeply insecure, often assuming that she and her race aren't useful. She is also understandably envious of other species, since they can do many things she can't due to her extremely weak immune system. She also grows to resent the Pilgrimage, believing that without it, she never would have known what she was missing. Because of her insecurities, she hides the fact that she loves Shepard for a long time with fear of being rejected, never imagining he would see past her mask. Even after revealing her feelings by accident and Shepard telling her that he feels the same way about her, she still thinks that the two of them can't be together, as she believes he deserves to be happy with someone and doubts she can do that for him. However, when Shepard tells her that he only wants to be with her, she is overjoyed and becomes determined to do whatever it takes to work between them. By the third game, she's become much more confident about their relationship and no longer questions whether or not she's good enough for him.
Tali seems to suffer from severe arachnophobia; she freaks out whenever she sees spiders and considers the Rachni to be the creepiest thing the Normandy crew have fought, due to the fact that they look like spiders and scuttle towards her, even though, as Garrus points out, she usually likes it when things get close and personal, which is why she carries a shotgun. She also displays a bit of an acerbic wit at times; for example, she says "I missed you too, Garrus" when Garrus comments on how useless her combat drone would be against an enemy dreadnought.
A defining trait of Tali's is her tendency to place enormous blame upon herself whenever something in her life goes wrong, justified or not. This extends to claiming responsibility for incidents she couldn't possibly be held accountable for, like the deaths of most of her squad on Haestrom (which was a poorly-conceived and extremely risky mission to begin with) or her failure to prevent the re-ignition of the Geth/Quarian war (the Geth were refusing to negotiate and the Quarian Admiralty Board was stacked with pro-war admirals). As a result of this, she has something of a martyr complex, being all too prepared to sacrifice her own well-being for the good of her people. This is best shown during her loyalty mission, when she would rather be exiled from the only home she's ever known than have the crimes of her father become public knowledge, despite knowing full well her father wouldn't have wanted that for her. This is also why she is initially so reluctant to pursue a relationship with Shepard, believing herself to be unprofessional and selfish for even considering it. After the two reunite during the Reaper invasion, Tali tells Shepard straightaway that she probably won't come back on the Normandy after the Geth/Quarian war is over, despite how much she wants to, for the simple fact that her people need her.
Tali is also a very forgiving person, which is especially shown when she tells Shepard about how a Turian clerk had once called her a "suit rat" and refused to give her shelter right before she met him/her, and that now she's helping him in spite of that. She reasons that the war is too big for old grudges and that she doesn't have time to waste on a Turian who made her angry three years ago, as well as the fact that it worked out in the end since she met Shepard as a result. Additionally, while initially annoyed by her ship name being changed from 'vas Neema' to 'vas Normandy', she quickly embraces it; before the final battle on Earth, she remarks how the admirals once put the name on her like a "badge of shame", but then the Normandy retook the Quarian homeworld, and that it's time for her to return the favor.
Nonetheless, Tali was initially very belligerent towards the geth, strongly believing that the quarians were justified in trying to eliminate them after they acquired true AI status with the only mistake having been their creation. For the majority of the games, she'd been a strong proponent for war against them, and had been unwilling to recognize the geth as 'alive' or 'having a soul'. Only after meeting Legion did her mind begin to change; while she was initially distrusting of the geth platform, she eventually began to develop a grudging respect towards it. Through Legion, Tali gained a greater understanding of the geth and believed that peace between them and the quarians was possible, being the only member of the Admiralty Board (if she was not exiled) other than Zaal'Koris (who she initially had antagonistic relationship with due to his geth sympathies) to vote against retaking Rannoch. In the event of the quarians retaking Rannoch or establishing peace with the Geth, Tali expresses sadness over Legion's death, telling it that it does indeed have a soul in its final moments, and mourning it as a friend.
- As can be seen in a photograph during the events of Mass Effect 3, Tali's face is an edited portrait of the 2005 Miss England Hammasa Kohistani. However, Tali's photograph was changed to a original render of her face in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.
- Tali is also seen in Mass Effect's comic Homeworlds.