Forget Tarquin, why does Zzdtri know drow sign language? Or is drow sign language more than a crutch for deaf people?
Short Answer: It's useful and it's a Drow military thing. Long Answer
The Drow are aggressively militant, but at the same time, they're Elves, ergo with exceedingly low reproductive rates, compounded with an Almost Always Chaotic Evil society where members murder one another with a very frequent basis.
Yet they have extremely long lifespans to acquire military skills, and the constant threat of being killed by another Drow means they're pretty much all very well ready for duplicity, treachery, ambush, betrayal, and brutal combat. This translates to adopting commando fighting tactics, and stalking up on enemies is pretty much the norm.
Ergo, most Drow who can be equated to 'adventurers,' or have a combat background know Drow Sign Language, for the purposes of being able to communicate plans for betrayal in secret, or communicate in the pitch black of the Underdark where they can easily see using a purely visual medium. That way, Drow can plot in the dark to kill whatever prey has stumbled into the Underdark, without sounds that would give away their position.
In practice, by the way, this concept is so useful that I've talked pretty much every gaming group in every gaming system into having a Sign Language communication method. It comes up more often than you think.
EDIT: Ninja'd by Squark but I like my answer better =P
It's used for the same reason the Military use hand signals; Silent communication. Which, given the paranoid Backstabbing Drow engage in, is very important. I believe it's one of the automatic languages for Drow.
It's a bonus language, not automatic.
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Secretary of the Shoes For Wights fund
I don't think it matters if Tarquin knew Drow sign language or not. I think the drow could figure out what he wanted just from the context alone (Tarquin carrying an unconscious Nale and running away from the attackers, Sabine gone, the kobald paralyzed). It was clear that the fight was not going well for the Linear Guild. It wouldn't have been hard to figure out what Tarquin wanted even without Drow sign language.
Or the signs he could be talking about are pipe and drink, which are similar, unlike drinking fountain, which I cant think of a similar sign for, unless we're using slang sign language, if that's a thing.
Their: a possessive pronoun like “her” or “our” There: refers to a place ("the Kobold is over THERE"), or to indicate the existence of something, or to mention something for the first time. ("THERE is a Halfling sneaking up on him") They're: a contraction of “they are.”
Though the drug theory is inventive, given Tarquin's discourse about curvy female drow, his personality, and the fact that it's a lot easier to see our sign for "drinking fountain" as "oral sex" than "smoking", I'd vote for Tarquin having shown his sly linguistic skills to the lady, rather than the other.
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Originally Posted by SaintRidley
Stats of the Snarl:
Armor Class: Can't touch this.
Saving Throws: Yes.
Attack: Successful - undoes target.
Challenge Rating: Too high.
You guys remember Tarquin also mentioning knowing the elf-ambasador-in-disquise was a drow and was sending them gift baskets? Yeah... it seems Tarquin has more relations to them than we might think... heck, I wonder if he really DOES have a true neutral half-drow son somewhere called lean or anel?
Hmm, might the axe have an enchantment on it that would give Tarquin a latent advantage over the Order, even though he's no longer present?
All the runes along the blade made me think of spells like Instant Summons, though that's just an example and not really applicable here (as the runes would appear on the sapphire component of the spell, and it would just call the weapon back).
"Come play in the darkness with me."
"Thank you for the avvy, banjo1985!"