As promised, I'm going to provide a little unofficial history on the British, to better explain their military standing. I am going to briefly cover some early gnomish history to set things up. Gnomish pre-history will be posted onto a separate page for reference sometime in the near future. A Gazetteer of the Gnome World is still in the works and this might facilitate it's completion.
The British: An Unofficial History
Throughout the millenia that gnomes have existed, they cycle through three phases of civilization. First, a large group of gnomes get struck with wanderlust and begin exploring the world. Second, the gnomes experience a retraction, many of those explorers either set down roots, or they go back to their home villages. Finally, the Gnomish Wizards begin a societal crackdown, barring gnomish movement and breaking off communication with the new settlements, until the distant lands were forgotten and the wanderlust started up again.
When a group of French gnomes known as the Britons crossed the Chanel #5, like all gnomish explorers, they were amazed to discover the land alaready populated with gnomes. They were a poor, weak folk who use subsistence farming and surface mining to survive. These unwashed were happy to see the Britons and willingly gave them whatever meager hospitality they could offer. Despite a dreary climate and horrible local food, the Britons set up shop, lumbering the primevil forest, and teaching the unwashed underground mining.
Two things surprised the Britons. First, they discovered ruins with the appearance of the Gnoman Empire and a few of their secrets hidden within. Second was the appearance of the Scots.
The Scots poured out of the highlands and tried lay waste to area, as they had done countless times before. The Unwashed fled instantly, but the Britons held their ground, much to the surprise of the highlanders. The Britons adapted their tactics to drive the highlanders, decimating their ranks with wave after wave of volley fire.
As the Britons entered the Scottish highlands, they were met by an odd site, a number of the Scottish clan leaders accompanying one lone Gnoman Centurion. This Gnoman, Petronius Balboa, was the leader of the Scots and admitted his admiration of the Britons' tactics and a desire for peace. The Briton's leaders desired a continuation of hostilities, but one Briton general, Adrian Hasty, convinced the others that their resources and men were stretched to their limit. The ensuing treaty formed an agreed border between the Scots and a formally recognized Country of Britain. Both sides would build a short wall on this border as a symbolic gesture, naming it Adrian's Rockwall.
With the Scottish threat contained for now, they attempted to expand to the rumored Emerald Island located across Chanel #6. The gnomes they met there called themselves Leprechauns, and were just as vicious and far more magical than the highlanders. The British evacuated quickly, but they did make an alliance with the rebel Orangeman on the island. The British fashion sense also left a mark on the Irish, as they would change from wild men to dignified Leprechauns in top hats and coats.
Surrounded by angry Irish, possibly angry Scots, rumors of angry Viking gnomes, and one relatively safe water border with France, the British retracted and focused internally. They built up their agriculture and industry, and educated the Unwashed Gnomes. From this point forward, they were called the Wash, which in the local dialect turned into Welsh. They were still the lowest caste in the social system, but the British admired their hard work and attention to detail when building contraptions, and most suprisingly, ships.
When the next era of wanderlust occurred, the British rulers looked at other ways to expand their empire. With vast forests and surrounded by the seas, the British focused on shipbuilding. Their bigger faster ships allowed them to dominate the shipping market, opening up cheaper, faster trade with the outlying areas of the Gnomish Homeland. To expand the markets to use their shipping, they sponsored expeditions to the far reaches of the Seven Seas. Explorers, bolstered by a squad of marines, would investigate about 5-10 miles inland to ensure no hostile forces or dangerous geography would affect their choice of a port. Harbor facilities would be constructed, and an open invitation to all nationalities to come and live in the new town under relative freedom.
As the port was established, the explorers would venture out until they found the next suitable harbor candidate. In some cases, such as along the African Coast, the British ports served as trade stations, rest stops for longer voyages, or even drop off points for cargo. Few people ventured into the wilderness. In other instances, such as New Scotland, mass emigration forced the British out of the town's governance, but their shipping interests still dominated the area economically.
As time past, and the gnomish desire to withdraw back to their homeland kicked in, they sometimes would give governance to the local races, rather than the gnome colonists. It is little written, but some British interests were given to Teddy Bear loyalists, and tax revenues would sail back to Britain. The system worked until a) Teddy Bear and Gnome Pirates discovered the secret treasury on New Providence in the Azores. and b) the Teddy Bears in New Britain began an insurrection against the Teddy Bear overlords, who were far more draconian than the British ever were. The Picnic for Independence sparked off a series of revolts around the world, not only in the trade colonies, but spreading to Gnome homelands. When the dust settled, the cycle of gnomish civilization has seemed to stop on exploration, and the world has never been the same.
When the dark spectre of Nomepoleon I and the French covered the Gnomish homelands, the British... just sat there, with as many guns as they could muster pointed towards the French coastline. Nomepoleon I did not believe in a navy, so most British claims were unaffected by the Total War of the evil French.
After the first Nomepoleon was brought to justice.British interests in commerce and exploration exploded. Outposts in Africa, South America, and the Pacific were expanded. Relations with Chinese, Japanese, and Indian gnome were establish. It is during this time that both Swiss and British explorers "rediscovered" the Sikh gnomes and brought them back into the fold.
While there has not been a prolonged war between them in over 100 years, the British, Irish, and Highlanders do have the occasional series of skirmishes. None of the nations fully mobilize, but there have been scares.
In the Modern gnomish age, the British Trade Empire stretches everywhere. Their frigates and steamships are still considered the fastest in the world, although the American and German navies are doing their best to contest that claim. The British fancy themselves the world's maritime police force. All reports of piracy are met head on, with no mercy granted those found guilty.
Recently, the only instance of British involvement on European soil among the nations of the Gnomish Homeland was during the Cry-Me-A River War with Russia.
As the other nations are finally filling in the vast gaps between British ports along the frontier, the British are getting more and more involved in local politics. They have bolstered many of their local marine garrisons with British Highlanders "civilized" mercenary versions of their northern neighbors. Reports of African ports sending out Teddy Bear redcoats to defend the outer claims, or rescue British civilians, have trickled back to the homelands. Finally, a few British claims do have Sikh loyal to the British Coin.
Of course, dear Gnomies, any other information about the elusive British would be appreciated.