Folks love to bring up Orlanth and his subcults. So let’s talk about them for a minute. Orlanth Adventerous and Orlanth Thunderous are both Orlanth and both accepted and foundational elements of Orlanthi society. But even though both subcults are the same god, they are treated differently. They have different religious hierarchies, emphasize different cult skills, have different magics available to them, especially different Rune magics, lead different rituals, and play different roles in Orlanthi culture. Because they have different myths and different roles, they grant different magics, and they’re worshipped in different ways. Even though pretty much everyone acknowledges they’re both Orlanth.
What about Elmal and Yelmalio? Let’s not try to address the question of whether or not Elmal and Yelmalio are the same. Actually, let’s just put the debate aside and assume for the sake of the argument that in the great mystery they are actually the same entity (again, let’s ignore all the previous evidence against them being the same god).
Even though we’ve accepted this, the two subcults aren’t worshipped the same. Their followers don’t emulate the same myths. They don’t have the same religious structures. They don’t have the same religious associations. Each is associated with different magics. They don’t represent the same celestial entity. They don’t even share the same Runes in that Elmal is depicted as having access to the Fire Rune. Their followers don’t play the same roles in their respective societies. And at least the Elmali don’t believe that they are a subcult of Yelmalio.
So why should they have the same cult format? Orlanth Adventerous and Thunderous have very different aspects to their cults, especially the Rune Magic, and everyone believes they’re the different ways of worshipping the same entity. Elmal and Yelmalio are not believed to the be same by everyone and they have very different cults and have been depicted with different magics, but the new RQG materials keeps proposing that they can basically be treated as the same. The document in progress has a adopted a couple minor differences, but still proposes they’re basically the same and can be treated as such. Why? Historically the two cults have felt very different even if they have overlapping realms of influence. Treating Elmal as a lesser carbon copy of Yelmalio completely erases the rich differences between the two cults. Would you propose Orlanth Adventerous and Thunderous could be treated as carbon copies of one another with a point or two of different magics? I hope not.
What do the Orlanthi think about Shargash and Antirius? How do they figure in Elmal’s myths?
I’m pretty sure the answer to those questions is that they don’t. So while a God Learner or worshipper of Yelmalio might try to make those associations, they have no impact on how the Orlanthi experience Elmal in their lives from day to day.
Again, the question isn’t can the readers of the game setting, or God Learners find connections and similarities between these beings. The question is, when the Orlanthi look at the Sun in the sky and worship Elmal in thanks, do they do so in the same way that Yelmalions worship? The answer, from previous depictions of the cults, is no. The vast majority of Orlanthi around the time of Monrogh’s revelation don’t know anything about Antirius.
The source material is certainly not clear on this. The idea of independent clans following Yelmalio seems to be a relic of the time before the initial revelation of Elmal. After his revelation, Elmal seemed to replace Yelmalio in that role. There are several references to Elmal’s cult begin present in Tarsh without the influence of the Heortlings. We’re told the Dolutha for example worship Elmal and that they came to Dragon Pass from the north, not as part of the Heortling migration.
We’re told Elmal was worshipped in Tarsh too and that those clans and tribes converted to the new Yelmalio cult. The Elmali of the Iron Spike were from Tarsh and not Heortlings and maintained the worship of Elmal rather than converting to Yelmalio.
This is basically what I presented as the real cause of the #3 response the Orlanthi followers of Elmal might have to The Yelmalions when they come seeking converts. It’s a polictical frustration about feeling abused and overlooked. But it requires a severing of the ties the Elmal has to Orlanth which are central to the way in which Elmal’s cult is worshiped, which is to say it doesn’t present a smooth transition, but rather a total rejection of the society in which they were raised and lived. Hence, the need to move to a new homeland in Vaantar.