|Roquat the Red or Ruggedo of the Rocks, deposed Nome King|
|First appearance||Ozma of Oz (1907)|
|Last appearance||Handy Mandy in Oz (1937) (canonical)|
|Created by||L. Frank Baum|
|Nickname(s)||The Metal Monarch|
|Nationality||Nome Kingdom, Land of Ev|
The Nome King is a fictional character created by American author L. Frank Baum. He is introduced in Baum's third Oz book Ozma of Oz (1907). He also appears in many of the continuing sequel Oz novels also written by Baum. Although the character of the Wicked Witch of the West is the most notable and famous Oz villain (due to her appearance in the 1939 MGM musical The Wizard of Oz), it is actually the Nome King who is the principal antagonist throughout the entire book series.
Katharine M. Rogers, a biographer of L. Frank Baum, has argued that there was a precursor of the Nome King in one of Baum's pre-Oz works. In the Adventures in Phynnyland (1899), later known as A New Wonderland, there is an extremely similar character called King Scowleyow. Rogers finds him a "convincingly evil" villain despite his ridiculous name. His people reportedly live in caves and mines. They dig iron and tin out of the rocks in their environment. They melt these metals into bars and sell them.
Scowleyow hates the King of Phunnyland and all his people, because they live so happily and "care nothing for money. He decides to destroy Phynnyland and instructs his mechanics to built what is essentially a robot. It is described as a great man built of cast iron, and containing within him machinery. The robot is called "the Cast-iron Man". The metallic creature roars, rolls his eyes, and gnashes his teeth. It is set on marching across a valley, destroying trees and houses on its path.
Rogers notes the similarities between Scowleyow and the Nome King. They represent the negation of goodwill and happiness. They are associated with the underground and material wealth. Scowleyow is a powerful figure who uses his technological knowledge to create a machine capable only of destruction. And both villains demonstrate the tendency of evil towards self-destruction.
In the novels
The character called the Nome King is originally named Roquat the Red. Later he takes the name Ruggedo, which Baum first used in a stage adaptation. Even after Ruggedo loses his throne, he continues to think of himself as king, and the Oz book authors politely refer to him that way. Authors Ruth Plumly Thompson and John R. Neill used the traditional spelling "gnome" so Ruggedo is the title character in Thompson's The Gnome King of Oz.
In Baum's universe, the Nomes are immortal rock fairies who dwell underground. They hide jewels and precious metals in the earth, and resent the "upstairs people" who dig down for those valuables. Apparently as revenge, the Nome King enjoys keeping surface-dwellers as slaves—not for their labor but simply to have them.
Nomes' greatest fear is eggs. Upon seeing Billina, Roquat is terrified, declaring that "Eggs are poison to Nomes!" He claims that any Nome who contacts an egg will be weakened to the point that they can be easily destroyed. Baum, however, strongly hints that the fear of eggs is unjustified, as the Scarecrow repeatedly pelts him with eggs at the end of the novel, causing him no apparent harm beyond stress enough to allow Dorothy Gale to remove his Magic Belt. Sally Roesch Wagner, in her pamphlet The Wonderful Mother of Oz suggests that Matilda Joslyn Gage had made Baum aware that the egg is an important symbol of matriarchy, and that it is this that the Nomes, among whom no females are seen in any canonical text, actually fear.
In their first encounter with Roquat, in Ozma of Oz, Princess Ozma, Dorothy Gale, and a party from the Emerald City free the royal family of Ev from his enslavement and, for good measure, take away his magic belt. Roquat becomes so angry that he plots revenge in The Emerald City of Oz. He has his subjects dig a tunnel under the Deadly Desert while his general recruits a host of evil spirits to conquer Oz. Fortunately, at the moment of invasion Roquat tastes the Water of Oblivion and forgets everything, including his enmity and his name.
Tik-Tok of Oz reintroduces the Nome King with his new name, all the Nomes, Whimsies, Growleywogs, and Phanfasms having forgotten the old one, and old resentments. Using some personal magic, he has enslaved the Shaggy Man's brother, a miner from Colorado. Shaggy, with the help of Betsy Bobbin, the Oogaboo army, some of Dorothy's old friends, and Quox the dragon, conquer the Nome King again and Tititi-Hoochoo, the Great Jinjin expels him from his kingdom, placing Chief Steward Kaliko on the throne. (In Rinkitink in Oz, which is a revision of a lost 1905 novel titled King Rinkitink, which, had it been published, would have been the original character's debut, Kaliko behaves much like his former master.)
In The Magic of Oz, the exile Ruggedo meets the young enchanter Kiki Aru and plans to destroy Oz again. He gets into the country without Ozma's knowledge, creating havoc. However, he again drinks of the Water of Oblivion, and to stop him ever going bad again Ozma settles him in the Emerald City.
Soon after taking over the Oz series, Ruth Plumly Thompson brought back Ruggedo, his memory and rancor restored and living imprisoned under the city. Finding a box of mixed magic, in Kabumpo in Oz he grows into a giant and runs away with Ozma's royal palace on his head. He is placed on a Runaway Land which runs out to the Nonestic Ocean and strands him on an island.
In The Gnome King of Oz, he is helped off the island by Peter Brown, an athletic boy from Philadelphia, making his first trip to Oz. As in Ozma of Oz, Ruggedo is quite friendly when he thinks he is going to get his way. After threatening the Emerald City utilizing a Cloak of Invisibility, he is hit with a Silence Stone and immediately struck dumb.
In Pirates in Oz, the dumb Ruggedo finds a town in the Land of Ev called Menankypoo, whose people speak with words across their foreheads, and seek a dumb king. Peter, Pigasus and Captain Samuel Salt aid in his defeat and he is transformed into a jug.
In Handy Mandy in Oz, the Wizard of Wutz, the handsome but cruel King of the Silver Mountain, restored his proper form, but at the end of that book, Himself the Elf transforms both of them into cactuses, so that they can never make trouble again.
Ruggedo made no further appearances in the original Oz series, but his further adventures have been written in several later books (some of which harmonize with one another; others which are contradictory).
The Nome King and the Gnome King
Much fan discussion has revolved around the identity of The Gnome King in Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, a jolly rock dweller who does not believe in giving, but only in even exchange. His gnomes make sleighbells for each of Claus's ten reindeer that he gives in exchange for toys for his children. An editor's note to Judy Pike's article "The Decline and Fall of the Nome King" conjectures that the Gnome King is the Nome King's father.
In other media
The Nome King was first played by Paul de Dupont in The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (1908). John Dunsmure played Ruggedo, the Metal Monarch in the stage play The Tik-Tok Man of Oz (1913), by Baum, Louis F. Gottschalk, and Victor Schertzinger, produced in Los Angeles by Oliver Morosco. In the play, he sings a duet with Polychrome titled "When in Trouble Come to Papa". As in the novel, the lack of females among Nomes causes Ruggedo to be willing to take her as wife, sister, or daughter so long as she remains to brighten his kingdom, and the song has him trying out the father option.
Over the summer of 2007, South Coast Repertory performed a play called Time Again in Oz, featuring many familiar Oz characters, such as Roquat the Nome King, Tik Tok, Uncle Henry, and, of course, Dorothy. Instead of being portrayed as an old man that looks like a mineral, Roquat is identified as being tall, rock-like with a boulder-like mass for his torso, and wears a large crown upon his rocky head. He controls the Nomes at will, headed by his lead Nome, Feldspar, who is very similar to Chistery, the flying monkey character from the Broadway adaptation, Wicked.
The Nome King was portrayed on film by Nicol Williamson in 1985's Return to Oz which was based loosely on the books Ozma of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. In that film, his rock-like nature was taken to the extreme via Will Vinton's Claymation. His personality and characterization largely stays true to how he is portrayed in the original novels, being seemingly fair and courteous to Dorothy and her companions under the belief that they will fail a game he sets up for them (in which they touch an ornament from his collection and say "Oz" simultaneously, having three chances each to do so) in order to give them a chance to locate the Scarecrow, whom the Nome King transformed into an ornament shortly after their entering of his domain. Of the group, all but Dorothy fail and are subsequently transformed also. As this occurs the Nome King progressively becomes more organic looking in appearance, and would have most likely became fully human should Dorothy failed on her last guess (why the Nome King so desires this is never elaborated upon). It is only when she successfully locates the Scarecrow and her friends, subsequently reverting the Nome King to his original form, does he reveal a more sadistic and threatening side to his character (hinted at throughout the film in his earlier exchanges with Princess Mombi and also his messenger). Hungry for revenge, he grows to an enormous size and tries to eat the protagonists in a scene inspired by Georges Méliès's Conquest of the Pole (1912). He is eventually destroyed by ingesting a chicken egg, since eggs are poisonous to Nomes.
Roquat, having regained his original name, is the villain of The Oz-Wonderland War, published by DC Comics and starring Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. Much of the story retreads material from Ozma of Oz, as he has also regained the Magic Belt, and it must be seized again. He uses Nomes that parody the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk that get pelted by Easter Eggs, again to no apparent harm, as in the book.
Michael G. Ploog, who was a conceptual artist of Return to Oz, wrote and illustrated a graphic novel based on The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus in which the Gnome King looked like the Nome King's likeness in the film, but whose function was greatly expanded from the novel to be the ruler of all the Immortals.
In Bill Willingham's Vertigo comic book series Fables, the Nome King has sided with the Adversary and is now the ruler of Oz. He is later deposed in an uprising led by former Fabletown resident Bufkin, one of the winged monkeys native to Oz.
In the comic book The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles #1 (2006), Ruggedo is coerced by a new Witch to bring the Jabberwocky creature to life.
In the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, the Nome King is alluded to once, along with other underground threats believed by the citizens of Wicked's Oz to be mere legend. It is not officially stated whether the Nome King, or other figures undeniably real in Baum's Oz such as Lurline, actually exist in Maguire's Oz.
In Blade: Trinity, Zoe is read the Oz books by her mother, and she later compares Drake to the Nome King in that he is bad simply because he has never tried to be good.
In Emerald City Confidential, the Nome King is now a bartender and is mostly reformed (although he is not above using illegal magic to gain back his fortune).
The Nome King appears in Dorothy and the Witches of Oz played by professional wrestler Al Snow. He is among the villains that accompanies the Wicked Witch of the West in her attack on Earth. During the climax of the film, the Nome King fights the Tin Man and is defeated by him.
Concerning the original depiction of the Nome King by L. Frank Baum, essayist Suzanne Rahn has suggested that he was a "distinctly American kind of monarch". Rather than a traditional king, the Nome King was more of an industrial capitalist. His power resided in controlling a monopoly. Rahn compares the king to industrialists Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919), J. P. Morgan (1837-1913), and John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937). Richard Tuerk expands this theory to include the other Nome King, Kaliko. In Rinkitink in Oz (1916), Kaliko says to his allies Queen Cor and King Gos: "as a matter of business policy we powerful Kings must stand together and trample the weaker ones under our feet". In this case, Baum makes his replacement Nome king sound like a stereotypical capitalist from his time period.
In Ozma of Oz (1907), the Nome King's first appearance, most of the action does not take place in the Land of Oz. The main setting is the Land of Ev. Princess Ozma, the ruler of Oz, leads a military expedition in an attempt to rescue the Royal Family of Ev from the Nome King. The family consists of the wife and 10 children of Evoldo of Ev, who have all been enslaved. The Nome King has magically transformed them into ornamental objects for his underground palace. Ozma thinks they have been abducted, but she eventually learns that they have been sold to the Nome King by the "wicked" Evoldo. The Nome King promised him a long life in exchange for his family. Tik-Tok argues that the Nome King "has done no wrong", only Evoldo did wrong. Evoldo did not enjoy a long life after all. Feeling remorse for his act, Evoldo committed suicide by drowning. Learning that the Nome King never fulfilled his part of the deal, Ozma sees in this as opportunity for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. In effect she considers the deal to be legally void.
Tuerk argues that Tik-Tok's original assessment of the Nome King is misleading. The character believes that Evoldo selling his family was an evil act, but fails to see anything wrong with the Nome King buying them. In fact both rulers took part in an evil deal. At a later point, Tik-Tok offers a misleading character assessment of the Nome King. He claims that the King is honest, good natured, and should be trusted to do the right thing. Baum further deceives his readers about the true nature of the Nome King through the description he gives when the characters meet him in person. The King is presented as "a little fat man" with a bushy hair and flowing beard. His clothes, hair, beard, and face are colored gray-brown. He is described as seeming "kindly and good humored" with merry-seeming eyes. He does not look like a villain at all. In fact, Dorothy Gale whispers to Ozma that the King looks like Santa Claus, with the main difference being in their coloration. The Nome King recognizes the reference, quotes a description of Santa with "a red face and a round little belly" in a pleasant voice, and then laughs. His laughter and the accompanying movement of his own belly are again Santa-like. When the King lights his pipe, he is described as looking even more like Santa Claus.
Suzanne Rahn has argued that the misleading description of the King serves as a lesson to child readers about the danger of taking people at face value. Tuerk argues that it also serves as a lesson to the deceived Ozma and Dorothy to look beneath appearances to discover reality. Ozma later speaks of his "mask of fairness and good nature". Learning to discern between appearance and reality are in fact central to this book. The Wheelers depicted earlier in the novel seem ferocious and depict themselves as villains, but they are actually harmless and kind. The Nome King appears much nicer than he actually is and is the real villain of the book. In other words, appearances can be deceiving.
Despite the Nome King's "jolly" and avuncular appearance, he refuses to give up his prisoners. He shows Ozma that he has an army of his own. It is equipped with bronze battle axes, steel armor, and electric lights on the soldiers' foreheads. Katharine M. Rogers observes that this army seems more effective than that of Ozma. She considers Baum an advocate of pacifism. In his works, only evil powers have effective armies.
However, both Ozma and the Nome King wish to avert a direct conflict. He offers a peaceful and seemingly fair solution. Each representative of Oz will successively have the opportunity to guess which of his ornaments are actually the enchanted people of Ev. If they succeed, the prisoners will be released. If they fail, the people of Oz will join them in captivity and become ornaments themselves. Ozma tries first and fails. She is transformed into an emerald grasshopper. All other people of Oz also fail and are transformed, with the Nome King laughing "pleasantly" as each person disappears. Soon the King's magnificent rooms seem devoid of life. Only Dorothy escapes this fate, through a lucky guess. She chooses a statue of a kitten, and it turns out to be an enchanted prince of Ev.
Billina the hen offers a solution to the problem. She is sitting unseen under the King's throne and overhears a clue to the transformation. She manages to undo them all and releases all the prisoners (slaves). When the restored characters enter the throne room to claim their freedom, the jolly Nome King becomes enraged. He calls for his army to capture them and keep them imprisoned forever. Billina again saves them all. She has heard that eggs are poisonous to Nomes. She supplies the eggs to defeat the King's army. Rogers comments on the appropriateness of an egg as the ultimate weapon of book. Eggs are symbols of new life and the kingdom of the Nomes seems to be mostly devoid of life. Also all the Nomes seem to be male and their values are masculine, the accumulation of wealth and militarism. They are defeated by a female, Billina, and a quintessentially feminine product such as the egg. The mighty Nome King is defeated by a barnyard hen whose sole Anthropomorphic qualities are intelligence and the power of speech. Rogers attributes this solution to Baum's "whimsical inventiveness".
The power of the King rests in a magic belt. Once the King is defeated by Billina's eggs, the belt is taken from him. Dorothy entrusts the belt to Ozma. Ozma uses the belt and its powers to return Dorothy to her sick Uncle Henry, who needs her. According to Jack Zipes, in this book, Dorothy and Ozma help victims of oppression and exploitation. The Nome King is the chief oppressor and exploiter of the novel.The two girls face the vanity, greed, and lust for power of the villains of the novel.
According to Jack Zipes, the Gnome King represents materialist greed. He is driven by a lust for power for the sake of power. Once defeated, the King gains a new sinister motivation, revenge. He and his allies want to enslave people to attain wealth and power. Oz is Baum's version of the utopia and the Nome King strives to undermine this utopian civilization.
Zipes believes that Baum was against any kind of violence. In The Emerald City of Oz (1910), the Nome King's invasion of Oz is therefore defeated in a non-violent way. Baum invented a fountain filled with the water of oblivion. A single sip of this water makes the drinker forget everything, including any evil intentions. The would-be invaders of Oz drink from the fountain, forget everything, and return home. Zipes argues that Baum was not going for a message of turning the other cheek. He was aware that if someone uses the same methods as his/her enemies, then that person risks becoming like them. If the defenders of Oz became cutthroat and militant like the Nome King and his forces, this would have tarnished the spirit and principles of Oz. So their victory, as orchestrated by Ozma is using a different method, oblivion. The method is creative, humane, and humanitarian.
Gore Vidal argued that Oz represents a "pastoral dream" deriving from the ideals of Thomas Jefferson, though here the slaves have been replaced by magic and good will. The Nome King and his black magic represent a technological civilization, driven by machines and industrialization. Vidal concluded that "the Nome King has governed the United States for more than a century; and he shows no sign of wanting to abdicate." 
Zipes believes that Baum was essentially a fairy tale writer. He places him in a group of writers with Charles Dickens (1812–1870), John Ruskin (1819-1900), George MacDonald (1824–1905), and Oscar Wilde (1854–1900). They brought an oppositional political perspective to their fairy tales and questioned the classical fairy tales and society at large. They reached out to young readers from the upper class, the petite bourgeoisie, and the working class. The literary fairy tale was their political weapon and they preached a message of social liberation. In Zipes words': "Their art was a subversive symbolic act intended to illuminate concrete utopias waiting to be realized once the authoritarian rule of the Nome King could be overcome".
Rogers points that The Emerald City of Oz (1910) was supposed to be the finale of the Oz series. Following the end of the Nome King's invasion, Baum announced that the Land of Oz was forever closed from the outside world. The truth was that the writer had become tired of the series. In the preface of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908), Baum humorously complained that children kept asking him for more Oz tales. He claimed that he knew of lots of other stories and hoped to tell them as well. In other words, he was ready to move on to other works. This complain also appeared in The Road to Oz (1909), where he hinted at a coming finale to the series.
In this novel, the Nome King has lost all traces of being jolly and good-humored. He has long been stewing over his defeat and the loss of his magic belt. He feels nothing but a constant anger, which has destroyed his own capacity to feel happiness and makes his subjects miserable as well. The King himself points that he is now angry morning, noon, and night. He sees his situation as monotonous and preventing him from gaining any pleasure in life. Rogers observes that the King now resembles any number of historical rulers. He has become an irresponsible tyrant, and is driven only by malice. He also resembles a naughty child given to impotent rages. He starts the book by storming and raving "all by himself". He walks up and down in his jewel-studded cavern and gets angrier all the time. He also turns his anger towards his own subjects, when they disagree with him. He punishes them by throwing them away, though Baum does not really explain the meaning of this punishment. Rogers suggests that it sounds "mysteriously horrible".
At last, the King decides to find an outlet to his rage. He wants to invade and conquer the Land of Oz, and to recapture his magic belt. To do this he first needs to find a way to reach Oz and to recruit military allies. He orders the construction of a tunnel beneath the deadly desert which separates the Nome Kingdom from Oz. He entrusts the command of his army to a single nome, General Guph. Guph says he hates good, happy, contented people. This is the reason he is supposedly fond of the King, which is neither of these things. The new allies of the Nome Kingdom are the Whimsies, the Phanfasms, and the Growleywogs. The Whimsies are supposedly brainless and love fighting of any kind. The Growleywogs are thug-like.
Despite Baum's intentions to end the Oz series, he eventually returned to it. He continued writing it from 1912 to his his death in 1919. His motivations for returning to it were the readers' continued demand for new stories, his financial need for commercially successful stories, and his own fascination with the world of Oz. In this second period of Oz, Oz becomes a "socialist paradise". The threats to it are genetic experimentation and abuse of magic. The Nome King returns in Tik-Tok of Oz (1914), where he represents cruel oppression.
Jason M. Bell and Jessica Bell trace the slavery and emancipation theme in the Oz tales to L. Frank Baum (1856– 1919) own childhood . As a child, Baum experienced the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the consequent Abolition of slavery in the United States. The heroes of the Oz tales tend to be abolitionists and strive to end slavery in any form. The villains are slave owners who seek to enslave others and institute slavery. The inevitable conflict between the two sides is a recurring theme in the Oz tales and has in their view contributed to the enduring popularity of the series. The Bells argue that it is no coincidence that abolitionist Dorothy Gale is from Kansas. Baum was a child during the Bleeding Kansas conflict (1854-1861). Thousands of abolitionists moved to Kansas to vote against slavery, while Border Ruffians from Missouri crossed the borders to stop them. The Nome King is a slave owner and a chauvinist. He is outsmarted and humiliated by Billina the hen, and literally left with egg on his face. The writers find it telling that the hyper-masculine Nomes and their King are terrified of feminine eggs.
In the return of the Nome King in The Emerald City of Oz (1910), the Bells see him once again as a slave owner. He is a rich and powerful tyrant who aspires to add humans to his possessions. The book is concerned with the sociological and psychological character of the tyrant. The King has become the model of a classic tyrant. His paranoia over potential dissent leads him to torture and destroy his own best generals. He is also obsessed with building and training an army in order to destroy the happiness of his peaceful neighbors. The ultimate objective of his revenge plot is to enslave Dorothy, Ozma, and the citizens of Oz. The new allies of the Nome Kingdom are essentially nefarious gangs, who have been promised a share of the captured slaves. They are lured to their alliance by what is essentially a cut of the military expedition's profit, the thousands of Ozite slaves.
Among the Nome King's potential slaves in this book are Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, who have just moved to Oz. They have lost their farm in Kansas due to a mortgage loan that they find impossible to pay. These two are given a chance to escape Oz before the seemingly invincible army of the Nome King arrives. They choose to stay and not to return to Kansas and their slavery to the mortgage owners. Aunt Em argues that she and her husband have been slaves all their lives, so this is not a new experience for them. They would like to take their chances with the rest of the people of Oz. These two escape the capitalist system of the United States to the socialist system of Oz. The book gives information about the economy of Oz. Everything is owned by the monarch but everything is shared freely by Ozma and her people. The happy citizens divide their day to time for work and time to play, and do both of these activities voluntarily. There are reportedly no cruel overseers to force them to work, they are simply proud to produce work for the sake of their friends and neighbors.
The Nome King's new allies are in fact unreliable and the Growleywogs plot against him. They gave been promised 20,000 Ozite slaves and fully intend to help the military expedition against Oz. But they plan afterwards to turn against the Nomes, to rob the Nome King and enslave him. Their Grand Gallipoot (leader) plans to make the Nome King his personal slave, and dreams of the former King blackening his boots and bringing him breakfast in bed every morning. The Nome King and General Guph are not more reliable. They also plan to double-cross their allies once victory is achieved. Guph has his own agenda and plots against his monarch. The Nome King and his allies meet in a banquet before their planned invasion. It is far from a happy occasion. The Growleywogs and Phanfasms can't stand each other and quarrel constantly. A Whimsie attacks General Guph and starts strangling him, though it stops just short of killing him. The Nome King feels relieved when the banquet ends at midnight, before anybody gets seriously hurt.
The Bells note that Baum contrasts the loyalty and intelligence of the people of Oz with the disharmony and disloyalty within the Nome King's alliance. As the massive invading army approaches the Emerald City, capital of Oz, Dorothy suggests to her friends that they should use the magic belt to escape. Ozma refuses to desert her people to save herself. Anyone else refuses to abandon Oz or to betray Ozma. The Ozite people lack in force of arms but make up for it in solidarity and ingenuity. Ozma and the Scarecrow devise a counterattack plan, to make the enemy army drink from the water of oblivion. The army is defeated by forgetting their evil ways and dissolving. The Bells point that this is the second time an Oz villain is defeated by water. The Wicked Witch of the West was destroyed by water, and the invading army is redeemed by water.
The Bells argue that the finale exploits the true flaws of the Nome King's invading force. They are unable to form a coherent plant and abide by it, and they do not form a coherent community. When they lose their memory, they lose their identity and have no community to help them regain it. The King and tyrant has failed to forge a genuine community, where individuals may overcome their limitations by cooperation.
In Tik-Tok of Oz (1914), it is revealed that the Nome King also drunk from the water of oblivion and has forgotten his own original name, "Roquat". He now uses the name "Ruggedo". He remains, however, a slave owner. He has enslaved the brother of the Shaggy Man. The Shaggy Man convinces Queen Ann Soforth of Oogaboo to lead a military expedition against the Nome King. He wants to free his brother from slavery and Ann wants to conquer a deserving foe. 
The King learns of the expedition and sets a trap. He wants to send his new opponents to Tititi-Hoochoo, where he has learned that the most powerful people in the world live. He hopes that the residents will destroy them. He misunderstands, however, the source of their strength. They are a self-directed and equal people, "private citizens" who have no need of kings and tyrants. They are wise enough to understand that the intruders the King send them are not there voluntarily. They decide to help them instead of attacking them, and send a dragon to join the expedition against the King.
Once again, the King commands an army in this conflict. But this army is no longer loyal to him. He treats them cruelly and uses whipping to punish them. They have no motivation to work when he is not present, nor do they want their master to win. When the enemy army arrives, the King falls in love with the fairy Polychrome and tries to capture her. He also wants to enslave Tik-Tok the robot. But Tik-Tok is armed and the Nomes retreat in fear. Ann instructs her robotic ally to not use his gun unless necessary, and he proclaims that he will fire only if they try to capture him.
The Nome King is defeated and deposed. He is replaced by a new king of the nomes, Kaliko. This character seems to be kinder and gentler than his predecessor. His name suggests to the Bells the calico fabric and more feminine traits than the hyper-masculine Nomes. Betsy Bobbin later questions the cruelty of Ruggedo as a slave owner. The expedition discovers that he kept the Shaggy Man's brother living in a forested area of a large underground cavern. He was not living in a confined space and his prison was large enough to give the impression of living "out of doors". The King fed his slave what was supposedly the best food in the world and did not require him to do any work. However the slave's existence was not an altogether happy one. Ruggedo had transformed his external appearance and turned him into an "Uggly One". And as Kaliko points out, slaves can not go where they please or when they please. A slave is not, in Kaliko's words, "his own master".
- Bell, Jason M.; Bell, Jessica (2010), "The Ethics and Epistemology of Emancipation in Oz", The Universe of Oz: Essays on Baum's Series and Its Progeny, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786456222
- Rogers, Katharine M. (2002), "Becoming a Writer in Chicago, 1891-1900", L. Frank Baum: Creator of Oz: A Biography, Macmillan Publishers, ISBN 978-1429979849
- Rogers, Katharine M. (2002), "Royal Historian of Oz, 1907-1910", L. Frank Baum: Creator of Oz: A Biography, Macmillan Publishers, ISBN 978-1429979849
- Tuerk, Richard (2007), "Ozma of Oz:The First Underground Journey", Oz in Perspective: Magic and Myth in the L. Frank Baum Books, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786482917
- Zipes, Jack (2006), "Inverting and Subverting the World with Hope: The Fairy Tales of George MacDonald, Oscar Wilde, and L. Frank Baum", Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion, Routledge, ISBN 978-1135210298
- Zipes, Jack (2007), "L. Frank Baum and the Utopian Spirit of Oz", When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0415980067
- Jack Snow, Who's Who in Oz, Chicago, Reilly & Lee, 1954; New York, Peter Bedrick Books, 1988; . 145.
- Rogers (2002), p. 59-61
- The unpublished Bucketheads in Oz, which features author surrogates for each of its authors, features co-author Melody Grandy as a female Nome
- The Baum Bugle, Christmas 1969
- The Tik-Tok Man of Oz
- Willingham, Bill (w), Buckingham, Mark (p). Fables 52: 17/4 (October, 2006), Vertigo Comics
- Fables #149
- Tuerk (2007), p. 59-76
- Rogers (2002), p. 149-175
- Zipes (2007), p. 214
- Zipes (2006), p. 105-137
- Zipes (2007), p. 216-217
- Bell (2010), p. 225-247