Mortals are so predictable...and such terrible liars.
~ Wan Shi Tong after discovering Sokka betrayed his trust
You betrayed my trust. From the beginning you intended of misuse this knowledge for evil purposes. (Sokka: You don't understand! If anyone's evil is the Fire Nation! You saw what they did to your library, they're destructive and dangerous! We need this information!) You think you're the first person to believe that their war was justified? Countless others before you have come here, seeking weapons or weaknesses or battle strategies.
~ Wan Shi Tong, when Team Avatar learns they could use a Solar Eclipse to defeat the Fire Nation.

Wan Shi Tong, which is translated as He Who Knows 10,000 Things, is the Spirit of Knowledge in the world of Avatar: the Last Airbender. Wan Shi Tong is the main antagonist of the Avatar season 2 episode "The Library" and a major supporting antagonist in the Legend of Korra season 2 episode "A New Spiritual Age". 

Despite his noble position, he is cynical, xenophobic, and hostile towards the Avatar and their allies, thus making him a villain, despite his honest desire to preserve the knowledge he has accumulated and protect it from those who abuses his knowledge for their own purposes.

History

Avatar the Last Airbender

Wan Shi Tong first appears in the second season Avatar the Last Airbender in the episode "The Library". He oversees perhaps the greatest library in the world, but does not allow humans to enter based on the cynical belief that all humans who seek knowledge simply do so to gain some kind of advantage over an enemy. Though Aang and his friends are initially able to convince him otherwise, Sokka goes out of his way to locate a means to stop the Fire Nation, which enrages Wan Shi Tong. Despite Aang's and his friend's pleas that the Fire Nation must be stopped, Wan Shi Tong tells them that countless humans before the Hundred Year War came to his library, seeking knowledge or weapons to defeat their enemies, while believing that their wars were "justified". He decides to finish burying his library under the desert sands "so that no one will abuse his knowledge again". 

Wan Shi Tong attacking Aang and his friends

He also attempts to kill Team Avatar on the grounds that they "know too much". Fortunately though, Aang and his friends manages to escape in time, but Professor Zei, who had spent his entire life looking for the library, chooses to stay.

Legend of Korra

Wan Shi Tong appears later in The Legend of Korra. His library now located in the Spirit World.

Wan Shi Tong selling Jinora out to Unalaq

He is leery of a visiting Jinora when she shows up asking for information on the Spirit Portals and swiftly sells her out to Unalaq after finding out she's both the granddaughter of Avatar Aang, and friends with the next Avatar Korra, implying that he still bears a grudge against the Avatar for abusing the knowledge in his library. He has also come to believe that Unalaq is more of a "true" ally to the Spirits than the Avatar. Jinora protested, proclaiming that Vaatu could destroy the world, but Unalaq denied this and kidnapped Jinora, with the help of her spirit friend "Furry Foot", who had turned dark.

Powers

Wan Shi Tong is known as the Spirit of Knowledge, making him debatably one of the most intelligent beings of all times. And being a spirit makes him immortal. He can fly, and has razor sharp talons and beak. He also has some signs of shape-shifting, as seen when he's attacking Aang and his friends. His neck is elongated, gains feathers shaped like horns, and his body becomes longer and more sleek, making it easier for him to maneuver in tight corners.

Trivia

  • Wan Shi Tong bears a strong resembles towards No-Face from the Miyazaki film Spirited Away.
  • The reason why Wan Shi Tong hates humans from entering his library is most likely explained in the Episode; The Siege of the North, Part 1. Years ago, Wan Shi Tong let Zhao in his library, resulting in him learning about the location water and moon spirits; Tui and La and burning part of his library. At the very least, he uses this as an example to illustrate his point.
  • Wan Shi Tong is voiced by veteran actor Hector Elizondo.

Navigation

           Avatar The Last Airbender logo.pngVillains

Fire Nation
Fire Lord Ozai | Fire Lord Azulon | Fire Lord Sozin | Azula | Zhao | Zuko | Ty Lee | Mai | Ukano | Combustion Man | Yon Rha | Warden | War Minister Qin | Boiling Rock Warden | Bujing | Mung | Chaejin | Circus Trainer

Earth Kingdom
Jet | General Fong | Xin Fu | Gow | Long Feng | Dai Li Sergeant | Hou-Ting | Liling | Ru | Yaling | Jianzhu | Yun | Chin the Conqueror

Water Tribe
Hama | Tahno | Tarrlok | Noatak | Yakone | Varrick | Zhu Li | Unalaq | Eska | Judge Hotah | Gilak | Thod | Thod's disciples

Equalists
Amon | Lieutenant | Hiroshi Sato

Red Lotus
Zaheer | Ghazan | Ming-Hua | P'Li | Aiwei

Earth Empire
Kuvira | Baatar Jr. | Guan | Sheng

Spirits
Vaatu | Dark Spirits | Hei Bai | Wan Shi Tong | Koh | Kemurikage | Old Iron | Father Glowworm

Other Groups
Dai Li | Rough Rhinos | Southern Raiders | Yuyan Archers | New Ozai Society | Triple Threat Triad | Royal Procession | Yellow Necks | Saowan Clan | Pirates | Sandbenders

Individuals
June | Lightning Bolt Zolt | Shady Shin | Tokuga | Wonyong Keum | Afiko | Tagaka | Xu Ping An | Mok

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