The White Tower Schism began in 999 NE when the Amyrlin Seat Siuan Sanche was deposed and stilled by a group of Sitters and others led by Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan. The action led to fighting among sisters and Warders in the White Tower and those sisters opposed to Elaida fleeing to Salidar. The Salidar Rebels set up their own Hall of the Tower, which eventually elected Egwene al'Vere as Amyrlin. Therefore, there were during this period two rival power structures, one in the Tower and one in Salidar, each with its own Amyrlin, Keeper of the Chronicles, Sitters, Mistress of Novices, and Ajah Heads.
While both groups lacked one of the seven Ajahs, they each treated the situation differently. In the Tower, Elaida dissolved the Blue Ajah, so the Blue seats and the blue portions of the symbols of the Tower and the Hall were removed. In the Rebel Hall, three empty red benches were present at every sitting. This difference generally had no effect on voting thresholds because (aside from votes to raise an Amyrlin, which are unique), the matters voted on in the books' events were lesser consensus issues, which do not require each Ajah to be present. The smaller size of the Tower Hall was relevant because it allowed it to raise Egwene to the Amyrlin Seat with only 11 Sitters present, which wouldn't have been possible before.
|Role||Pre-Schism||Tower Hall||Rebel Hall||Post-Schism|
|Amyrlin Seat||Siuan Sanche||Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan||Egwene al'Vere||Egwene al'Vere|
|Keeper of the Chronicles||Leane Sharif|| Tarna Feir|
Alviarin Freidhen §
|Sheriam Bayanar §||Silviana Brehon|
Each Hall comprised 18 Sitters, while a normal Hall would have 21. Elaida declared the Blues disbanded, reducing the size of her Hall by three. As no Reds joined the rebellion, there simply were none available to serve in the Rebel Hall.
- Bold – Unusual choice for the Hall having either left her seat recently or sat for a long period previously. (See below.)
- Italics – Unusual choice for the Hall having worn the shawl for less than 70 years. (See below.)
- § also Black Ajah.
In both Halls, there were Sitters who by one convention or other were unusual choices for the Hall. Siuan Sanche was the first to notice that several sitters in the Rebel Hall served despite having been Aes Sedai for less than 70 years. She later discovered that the loyalists had a similar problem. In addition to the inexperienced members, there were also Sitters, such as Romanda in Salidar and Suana and Ferane in the Tower, who had previously served in the Hall; however, it was rare for Sitters to seek a second term after having given up their seats before. Finally, in discussions among the Tower Sitters hunting the Black Ajah, it is revealed that the Ajah Heads in the Tower played an unusually direct role in choosing the unusual Sitters there.
For the five Ajahs with Sitters in both Halls, each has three normal Sitters and three unusual ones, except for the Browns, which has four normal ones and two unusual ones. All of the normal Sitters from these Ajahs in the Rebel Hall were Sitters before Siuan was deposed. The same was true in the Tower with the exception of Shevan who was neither a pre-Schism Sitter nor an unusual choice.
Fan theories generally held that someone was responsible for sending some or all of the six original Sitters to the rebels. Under one theory, the Ajah Heads sent them to stymie the rebellion. Support for this came from the fact that five of these six vote against almost every divisive measure put before the Rebel Hall. This theory sees them as taking advantage of the rift between Lelaine and Romanda to sow inaction. For evidence that this division among the five was feigned, they point to the vote to declare war on Elaida, in which the two who normally support Lelaine vote against it, to Lelaine's visible consternation. Another theory held these were the "moles" Elaida told Alviarin she had among the rebels. Still another theory advanced the notion that somehow the Black Ajah was responsible.
The former theory was proven correct. It was confirmed in The Gathering Storm that the Ajah Heads (aside from the Red and Blue) each sent Sitters to the rebels to try to end the rebellion quickly, with nothing more than hurt feelings. The Wheel of Time Companion confirms that Janya was not one of these, as she left on her own due to her disgust at the illegality of Siuan's deposing and Elaida's raising. It is also noteworthy that among the Ajah Heads' regrets was that "some" of the Sitters came to side with the rebels sometimes more than the Tower.
It also emerged that the youthful sitters raised in both the Tower and in Salidar were chosen as part of a plot to put control of the Tower in the hands of the Ajah Heads. The idea was that youthful Sitters would follow instructions from their Ajah Heads, and that once the Tower was reunified, it would be easier to un-chair the youthful Sitters. This explains why Suana and Ferane, both Ajah Heads and former Sitters, decided to take seats in the Hall once more.
Even before the Wheel of Time Companion confirmed it, Janya's actions showed that she was not involved. Janya was a Brown Sitter before the schism, but does not belong to either Romanda's faction, nor Lelaine's. Furthermore, she votes with the younger Sitters rather than the original Sitters in every vote. That could explain why the Browns have four normal Sitters where the other Ajahs (excluding the Blue and Red) have three. Janya was seen as a genuine rebel because she left on her own initiative and was therefore replaced with the logical next choice for Sitter, Shevan, who was seen as being groomed to replace Saerin. Another explanation put forward was that Saerin intended to step down when the Tower was whole again as she had been seen as likely to step down before long. Janya did retain her seat after the reunification though, perhaps because of the healing Egwene called for in her speech accepting the rebels' apology, and Shevan stepped down. Thus, the Brown was the only Ajah to return all three pre-split Sitters once the Tower reunified.
The loyalist Sitters continued to meet in the Hall of the Tower (for which the body is named), though blue stripes and benches were removed to reflect the disbanding of the Blue Ajah. In Salidar, the Rebel Hall met in what was known as the Little Hall, which had served as an inn before Salidar was abandoned years before. While journeying from Salidar to Tar Valon, the rebels used a temporary pavilion, which was given a more permanent wooden platform once they began their siege.
- Hall of the Tower
- White Tower Schism
- Hall of the Tower under Siuan Sanche
- Hall of the Tower under Egwene al'Vere
- Elaida a'Roihan's White Tower