Tullio is the secondary main antagonist in Philip Pullman's The Subtle Knife.


He lived in the world of Cittagazze for awhile before the Spectres came, but when the Spectres arrived, all adults fled, and Tullio was the only man who returned to town.

Because of this, and the fact he beat Paradisi, the previous Guild leader, half to death and gained possession of the subtle knife, the other children got attracted to the prospect of safety, no matter how fragile, and they all flocked to Cittagazze, knowing nothing would harm them if the Spectres feared the knife.


Sir Charles Latrom is the first man to mention Tullio. He says that he wants the knife and that Tullio has it. Lyra remembers seeing a crazy young man on the tower battlements the night before.

Will and Lyra are blackmailed by Lord Boreal into stealing the knife, but enter into a fight with Tullio, as they find he is keeping Paradisi starved and beaten. Tullio is seen by Will and Lyra dancing about crazily in the upper tower rooms, but they don't know what he is trying to do with the knife yet. So Tullio approaches, hearing a disturbance upstairs, and Pantalaimon, Lyra's daemon, becomes a giant bear to scare Tullio, but it only half-works, Tullio is too mad to properly notice anything.

Tullio lunges at Will and the fight begins.

During the fight, Tullio beats Will up, but soon Will gets the upper hand, and he grabs Tullio's hair, trying to get the man upstairs to the roof so he can dislodge him off. But Tullio is immune to this.

He lunges at Will with the knife, but then Will uses rope to flail at him. They edge their way up the stairs, and neither gains the upper hand.

Tullio is soon forced into surrender by Will, but he does not give up. Broken, battered and bruised, Tullio throws the knife at Will, accidentally slicing off two of Will's fingers in the process (its implied the knife itself did this, not Tullio, because the knife is somewhat sentient; being able to choose a new bearer) and Will fails to notice this in the heat of the fight. All he registers is a surprising amount of blood coming from somewhere.

Tullio then attacks Will, but is punched and knocked downstairs. He falls, taking the wooden doorway with him. Broken and battered, he stands, and bares his teeth menacingly at Will, but, realizing his defeat at last, Tullio marches outside of the tower in a fit of rage.


When Will is having his wound treated by Paradisi, Pantalaimon calls her over to the window, where she sees Tullio attacked by Spectres. He shrugs them off, hunching his shoulders in a pathetic attempt to make himself important, but they devour him from inside out. A few disturbing moments later, Tullio is a lifeless, still standing, living corpse.

Personality and Traits

Little is known of Tullio's nature before the Spectres arrive but he seems to be utterly ruthless. He is able to severely beat a defenceless old man half to death all because he wanted the knife he possessed. He also was arrogant enough to claim his right to the blade, even though one had to undergo physical trauma (losing two fingers) to gain ownership - that said, the knife chooses you, not the other way round - and Tullio was desperate enough that he tried to cut through to another universe all by himself, uncaring that the old man, Paradisi, was upstairs and that if he just was a little bit patient, Paradisi would surrender all knowledge he had. Even better: Tullio could have engaged in a duel with Paradisi, and honorably gained the knife that way. Tullio had no respect for learning from mistakes; and this, coupled with his incredible arrogance in fighting dirty, spelled his doom. He was quite dimwitted too, as he marched out deliberately into the open city full of the Spectres he had been so keen to avoid in the first place, almost surrendering himself to them. He had no knowledge of other worlds, thus, he was surprised to see Pantalaimon in bear form, but being half-crazed, he barely registered this astonishing sight.

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