1.5.6: Is Taim a Darkfriend?-- Updated
[Updated by Jennifer Liang]
Now that the "Taimandred" theory has been debunked (see section 1.1.5), we are left with one main question concerning the former false Dragon: Is Taim working for the Shadow or not?
Taim's actions in TPOD and WH - in particular, the attack he ordered on Rand in Cairhien - have proven that whoever he pledges allegiance to, he certainly cannot be considered one of the "good guys". However, this does not automatically mean he is a Darkfriend. There have been plenty of people working against Rand and his allies, with both good and bad intentions, who were/are not part of the Shadow; prime examples are Elaida and the late Pedron Niall.
Going with this idea, the "Non-Dark Taim" theory proposes that Taim is not a Darkfriend, but merely an ambitious, ruthless guy acting to gain what power he can once Rand's arrival denied him the Big Kahuna spot. Despite his obvious dislike of playing second fiddle to anyone, Taim may have originally planned to support Rand, helping him to win Tarmon Gai'don. Since Rand is expected to die in that battle, perhaps Taim thought to bide his time and take control in the aftermath - and after that, well, as Taim says, the winners write the histories. Even the attack in TPOD doesn't necessarily preclude this chain of reasoning, since it appears that actually killing Rand wasn't really Taim's primary goal in setting it up.
Then again, evidence from WH also strongly implied not only that Taim may be a Darkfriend, but one working directly for the Forsaken - specifically, Demandred or Moridin. The "Minion Taim" theory, in addition, offers compelling solutions to the contradictory evidence LOC and ACOS gave us about his character - the inconsistencies that originally led us to believe he was Demandred in disguise. (It is worth noting that if the Minion theory is true, then Taim would have had to have been instructed by Ishamael, for the most part. No other Forsaken was free early enough to have started teaching Taim, long enough ago for him to have learned all that stuff, and gotten Taint protection over so many years, etc. Although, he could well have taken up with Demandred after Ish's demise, as WH seems to suggest.)
The remainder of this section will examine Taim's actions and behavior from the last seven books, and present the evidence (or counterevidence) each incident provides for the two Taim theories.
In LOC, Taim knows how to test for channeling ability, and picks up Gateways with relative ease. He apparently teaches the Asha'man very well. Plus, Taim mentions to Bashere that he used Compulsion on two people [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76].
Non-Dark Taim: He's supposedly been channeling for 15 years. He had to have learned something in that time. Maybe Taim is just a fast learner, like Rand, or Nynaeve. In fact, one's ease of learning seems to be a direct function of how strong one is in the Power. (examples: Rand, Ny, El, Eg are all fast learners, and even SS and Moiraine, who are stronger than your average bear, spent a relatively short time as novices (3 years?).) This probably has to do with the fact that, the stronger you are, the easier it is for you to see the flows required for a particular action, and thus can more readily duplicate it.
Minion Taim: But the above doesn't explain Taim's learning curve; he wouldn't have had anybody to observe and learn FROM. It's a little hard to believe that Taim figured all this out on his own, especially Compulsion. Look at how much trouble Rand had learning before he got Asmo as a proper teacher. If Taim is working for Ishy/Demandred, of course, then obviously he would have learned from the Forsaken, just as Rand did from Asmo.
2) The Seal.
Minion Taim: The story about finding it in a Saldaean farmer's house is pretty fishy. Could it be that Taim gave it to Rand under orders?
Non-Dark Taim: If Taim is Demandred's servant, why would he, and the DO, give a seal to Rand? (Especially now that they are apparently trying to get them back?) Maybe the DO could predict that Rand/LTT would try to break the seal, but Demandred couldn't have. Taim was certainly shocked when it looked like Rand was going to smash it [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 80-81]. It could be that Taim gave it to Rand to get him to trust him, even though that failed utterly. Taim's seal story is also backed up, somewhat, by Bashere's story to Perrin about a farmer in Saldaea who claimed to be the descendant of the kings of an ancient Kingdom. If Taim's farmer = Bashere's farmer it would be plausible that the seal was the last item of inheritance. And who better for the farmer to give it to than the Dragon Reborn (Taim's claim before Rand declared himself)?
Counter-argument: It could be that Taim was shocked when Rand looked like he was going to break the Seal because he was worried that Rand was already totally gone. It's clear that the DO had plans for Rand (though not anymore, apparently), and that the DO told Demandred something about a plan for Rand (not necessarily the REAL plan) in the "Let the Lord of Chaos rule" speech, and that Demandred liked it. If Rand was too loony to perform his role, Minion Taim would be worried. As for why he gave the Seal to Rand in the first place, Minion Taim would be just as interested in gaining Rand's trust as Non-Dark Taim would be, after all, and the attacks on Dobraine and Bashere in COT indicate an apparent change of plans regarding the seals that was most likely not in effect as of LOC.
3) The Taint.
Taim claims to not be affected by the Taint, after (Rand estimates) 15 years of channeling [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76].
Minion Taim: This seems pretty unlikely. Consider Owyn, who was going mad after only 3 years of hardly ever channeling at all. Many of the Asha'man have a few screws loose after only a few months of intensive channeling. The only Taint protection we know of is linking to the DO.
Counter-argument: But if that's the case, why did Torval (who was quite definitely a Darkfriend) get so starry-eyed in TPOD, when Rand talked about cleansing the Taint [TPOD: 14, Message from the M'Hael, 306]? If DF Asha'man get immunity from the Taint, why would Torval be so excited about Rand cleansing it (and in fact, wouldn't he feel the exact opposite of excited)?
Rebuttal: Of course, there are Darkfriends and then there are Darkfriends. Taim is probably quite a bit more important to the bad guys than rank and file Asha'man like Torval. If Taim has indeed been a DF for 15 years or more, and was instructed by Ishy, then he is certainly not your run-of-the-mill DF. It's reasonable to suppose that the DO would extend his Taint protection to Taim but draw the line at any other non-Forsaken. Or, alternately, one can imagine an Asha'man converting to the DO solely for Taint protection, and not being particularly keen on the whole 'servant of the Dark Lord' angle. No more Taint = possibility of getting free of the DO & Forsaken.
Non-Dark Taim: It's not impossible that Taim could have held off Taint madness on his own, even if unlikely. Logain, who is not a Darkfriend or Forsaken, has been channeling for about six years (minus about a year or so of being gentled), and isn't going mad [LOC: 51, The Taking, 647]. It seems likely that the ease with which one succumbs to the Taint varies widely with the person. Owyn went under in 3 years, Taim mentions some other guys who lasted for 2 years [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], and Torval talks about a man who went nuts on his second day [TPOD: 14, Message From the M'Hael, 300].
[One point that has often been mentioned is that Rand sees Taim channeling, but he does not see the black cord connecting him to the DO and filtering out the Taint. However, this is NOT A VALID ARGUMENT! The black cords are only seen/sensed under very special circumstances. Rand has only seen them in two places-- T'A'R and the in-between space used for Skimming. Rand has never seen Taim in either of those places. Note that Rand has seen male Forsaken without seeing the cords: Aginor and Balthamel at the Eye, Be'lal in the Heart of the Stone, and Dashiva/Osan'gar on numerous occasions. Thus, the fact that Rand hasn't seen the black threads on Taim shows nothing one way or the other. (See section 1.3.1.)]
4) Taim's age.
Rand estimates Taim's age as 35, or a few years older [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76]. However, Rand doesn't know about the "slowing" effect of using the OP. Elayne talks about it in ACOS: "'We slow, Nynaeve. Somewhere between twenty and twenty-five, we begin aging more slowly. How much depends on how strong you are, but when doesn't'" [ACOS: 24, The Kin, 408]. According to RJ, a man with the spark doesn't slow until 25, usually closer to thirty. [Post-TPOD Signing, New York, 20 October, 1998, report by Ryan R.].
Thus, the only way Taim could be the age he looks is if he started channeling at an unusually late age. If he's legit, he'd have to be a wilder, and thus he must have started channeling young, at around Rand's age. Let's postulate that men slow at a rate similar to women. We know that Garenia ran away from the Tower 70 years ago, and presumably she slowed before then, or soon afterwards (in her early 20s, as is usual for women). Garenia looks like she is Nynaeve's age, around 26. That corresponds to about five years of physical aging in 70 years. So, if Taim started slowing at 30, then his actual age should be around 100 or so. Thus, the problem of Taim's age is even more extreme than it first appears.
Non-Dark Taim: Maybe Rand overestimated Taim's age; maybe he's only thirty or so, in which case he needn't have begun slowing noticeably yet.
Minion Taim: An interesting idea to consider is what happens to the aging patterns of channelers who start channeling after the age at which slowing begins. Flinn, for instance - he started channeling as an old codger, but will he now stop getting any older? It seems reasonable to suppose so. Non-Dark Taim would of necessity have to be a sparker (and thus would have had no control over when he started channeling), but if we postulate that Taim was Ishy or Demandred's protégé, it's possible that he is a "taught" channeler rather than a sparker. Thus he might not even have begun channeling until he was 35 or so, and if we're right in assuming that late starters will also slow from that point on, Taim could have been channeling for 15 plus years and still only look 35.
5) Taim's reaction to Rand's badges and awards.
Minion Taim: He's not pleased to be seen as subservient to Rand [LOC: 42, The Black Tower, 543], just like Demandred [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 56-57].
Non-Dark Taim: It is entirely possible that Taim is just plain arrogant. Nothing says the servants of the Shadow have a monopoly on excessive pride.
6) Lews Therin.
LTT often raves about Demandred, and killing him, every time Taim is around. LTT raves, "Sammael, oh, yes, but Demandred first. First of all I rid myself of him, then Sammael." [LOC: 51, The Taking, 635] LTT and Rand know where Sammael is. But why does LTT insist on killing Demandred if he doesn't know where he is?
Minion Taim: It's clear that if this theory is the correct one, Taim has picked up a lot more than just OP training from Demandred (more on that below), which could have caused LTT to confuse the two men.
Non-Dark Taim: Or, it could be that Taim just happens to have similar character traits as Demandred, and LTT thinks Taim will betray him like Demandred did in the AOL.
Anyway, LTT wants to kill all male channelers [ACOS: 7, Pitfalls and Tripwires, 139], and furthermore, one shouldn't take anything LTT says too seriously. He's a total loon. He wants to die forever and end his suffering [LOC: 18, A Taste of Solitude, 299], but he doesn't want to die [LOC: 46, Beyond the Gate, 560]. He says "trust no one" and "the man who doesn't trust is dead" or words to that effect.
7) The epilogue to Lord of Chaos: "Have I not done well, Great Lord?"
Minion Taim: The DO's orders were to "let the Lord of Chaos rule," which seems to refer to "sowing chaos" in general, and to promoting divisiveness among the enemies of the Shadow. Demandred and Mesaana (and Semirhage) were working together on a plot in LOC to "let the Lord of Chaos rule." One of the main plot threads in LOC was the interactions of Rand with the SAS and TAS embassies. Rand ended up getting kidnapped by the TAS, and was rescued with the assistance of the Asha'man. The events of the battle to free Rand led to a great deal of mistrust and enmity among the SAS embassy, the TAS, the Aiel who follow Rand, the Shaido, and the Asha'man. The current state of affairs among Rand's allies (his Aiel, the Asha'man) and potential allies (the TAS and SAS) can only be good for the Shadow.
But where did Demandred's involvement in the plan come in? We know that Mesaana was central to setting up the situation, from her place in the WT, but the act that actually set this chain of events in motion was the attack on Demira Sedai in Caemlyn. The most likely culprit in that incident is none other than Taim (see section 1.4.07), presumably acting under Demandred's orders.
This idea is further strengthened by Sammael's speech to Graendal in [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 135]:
"You deliver a message to Demandred from me. Tell him I know what he is up to." Events to the south had Demandred's mark all over them. Demandred had always liked using proxies.
This quote was originally used to argue that Demandred was involved with the Seanchan invasion in Tarabon, which could alternately account for his part in the sowing of chaos. However, Demandred's thoughts in [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 313] indicate otherwise:
...he wished Semirhage or Mesaana were present. Their alliance was delicate - a simple agreement that they would not turn on one another until the others had been eliminated - yet it had held all this time.
Since we now know that Semirhage is Anath and (up until recently) glued to the DotNM's side (see section 1.1.9), it is very unlikely that Demandred is with the Seanchan as well. Graendal's statement in that same scene that Demandred was supposed to be watching Rand makes his involvement with the Seanchan all but impossible.
Conversely, both Graendal's and Sammael's statements make perfect sense if one supposes they refer to Minion Taim.
Non-Dark Taim: It is not absolutely certain that Taim was the one behind the attack on Demira. And even if he was, Taim has always been interested in sowing discord between Rand and the AS (to keep Rand dependent on him), and any actions of his toward that end can easily be applied to either the Minion theory or the Non-Dark theory. It's possible (though unlikely) that the attack was merely fortuitous for Demandred and Mesaana's plan.
8) Taim kills the Gray Man.
Minion Taim: If he hadn't, Rand might have gotten information out of it. Alternatively, it could've been a set-up: Taim ordered the Gray Man, and killed him to "prove" his loyalty to Rand. Or, Demandred ordered the Gray Man, and had Taim kill him for the same reason. Or, somebody else sent it, and Taim killed it because it didn't suit his plans to have Rand dead at the time.
Non-Dark Taim: It's doubtful Rand could get much information from a Gray Man. The Gray Men have no souls--they're basically walking killing machines. They probably have some sort of self-destruct mechanism, too. Jared Samet remarks: "If I were designing a perfect assassin, I'd set him up so that he could never point the finger at me...Besides, the Gray Man could only tell Rand anything damaging to Taim if Demandred had sent him (possible I suppose, but why can't Demandred do it himself if that's what the DO wants?) A Gray Man with a story implicating Sammael or some other Forsaken (easy enough for a channeler to set up) could help Taim more than a dead one." As for how conveniently Taim showed up, recall that strange and oddly convenient things happen around Rand all the time.
9) Taim's remark on "These so-called Aiel" [LOC: 11, Lessons and Teachers, 215].
Minion Taim: Only somebody from the AOL would have cause to call the modern Aiel "so-called". The only other person to use this (exact same) phrase is Moridin, né Ishamael [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 356]. Taim could have picked up the phrase as the Forsaken's protégé. It's not hard to imagine Taim trying to emulate his Forsaken teachers as much as possible, even unconsciously.
Non-Dark Taim: This is the hardest piece of evidence to explain away. People have suggested rationalizations, though. For example, if Taim knew the Old Tongue, he might be simply saying that he doubts the Aiel are truly "dedicated" to Rand. Another possible explanation is that, if Taim is about 35, then he was alive for the Aiel War, although possibly too young to go east to fight. He probably heard tales about Aiel--10 feet tall, breathing fire, etc. Here he sees some in Caemlyn peacefully patrolling the streets. Not what an average wetlander would expect of Savages From the Waste.
Counter-argument: As to the first suggestion, it hardly seems in character for Taim to be making puns in the Old Tongue. As for the second, even if the Aiel Taim meets aren't the monsters he's heard about, they are undeniably Aiel. Nobody else in Randland regards them as "so-called."
In the prologue, it is said that Demandred never smiles [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 15], [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 58]. Taim doesn't either - at the end of LOC, before "Kneel, or you will be knelt", Rand observes: "His expression was as close to a smile as he had ever seen it." [LOC: 55, Dumai's Wells, 695]
Non-Dark Taim: Once again, it could just be that Taim and Demandred have similar personalities.
Minion Taim: Or that Taim imitates his teacher.
11) Min's viewing of an invisible man holding a knife to Rand's throat.
Non-Dark Taim/Minion Taim: Does it matter? Either way, Taim is not to be trusted.
12) Taim's behavior.
Minion Taim: Bill Garrett points out Taim's "challenge/submit" behavior. He'll argue with Rand about something, telling him it has to be done another way, then suddenly he'll agree and say "As my Lord Dragon commands." This could be Taim trying to do things his way, but suddenly remembering Demandred's orders to do what Rand says (or at least to not go directly against him). And Taim sometimes disobeys Rand and frequently does things Rand doesn't expect.
Non-Dark Taim: How is this different from the way the Tairen lords behaved? Or the Andoran nobility? Or Davram Bashere? Hell, even the Aiel tend to do this. Everybody tries to convince Rand to do things their way, but when you get right down to it, he's going to do as he damn well pleases, and all you can say is "As my Lord Dragon commands."
13) Another slip of the tongue.
When Rand shows Taim how to make a gateway, he calls it a "gateway." A little further in the same chapter, Taim says, "You can Travel, but you don't know how to test for the talent." How does Taim know that a Gateway = Traveling? AFAIK, Rand didn't mention anything about "traveling," only "gateways."
Non-Dark Taim: Maybe Taim heard the term described during his 15 years as a channeler, and added 2 and 2 to make 4.
Minion Taim: He learned it, and the proper name for it, from his Forsaken teachers.
14) Sammael and Graendal in conversation:
In [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 355], Sammael and Graendal are discussing their comrades. Sammael says, "I didn't arrange [Rand's] kidnapping....Mesaana had a hand in it, though. Maybe Demandred and Semirhage as well, despite how it ended...."
Minion Taim: Note the "despite" - there is a strong implication here that Sem and Dem somehow had a hand in the conclusion of the Rand-kidnapping episode, i.e. in his rescue. Who was instrumental in the rescue? Perrin and the Two Riversians, the wolves, the Mayeners, the Aiel - and Taim and the Asha'man. If Sammael knew that Taim is working for Demandred, his quote could be interpreted as a comment on how Demandred arranged the kidnapping despite the fact that his lackey Taim showed up to rescue Rand.
Non-Dark Taim: A totally different spin can be put on the passage. As Mark Loy explains, "To paraphrase...'I didn't arrange Rand's kidnapping... Mesaana had a hand in arranging Rand's kidnapping... Maybe Dem and Sem had a hand in arranging Rand's kidnapping as well, despite how the kidnapping ended. This interpretation means that they might have had a hand in arranging the kidnapping...in the planning" despite the fact that it ended all messed up.
15) Yet another slip of the tongue.
Taim has taken to calling himself "The M'Hael," which means "leader" in the Old Tongue, and giving OT designations to his lieutenants. Taim knows an awful lot about the Old Tongue for a modern-day Randlander.
Non-Dark Taim: Well, maybe he does know the Old Tongue. Maybe he was a scholar or something before he became a False Dragon. Of course, that is pure speculation.
Minion Taim: Or, once again, he could have picked this up from Ishy or Demandred, as his student.
16) The Black Tower.
Taim has pretty much built the Black Tower on his own. Rand has made little effort to be involved in it, and has left the recruiting, training, and testing of Asha'man to Taim. Taim, in turn, has done a fine job - in just a few months (between LOC and TPOD) he's created an unconventional military force which can take on anybody in Randland, including Aes Sedai and Seanchan. Just a handful of Asha'man have proven to be the decisive factor in many battles, some of them against opponents with channeling capability.
So, we must ask ourselves, if Taim is so efficient at turning out combat channelers, why didn't he do it when HE was claiming to be the Dragon Reborn? He claims to have tried training other men to channel [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], so the thought must have occurred to him. Granted, since he lacked Rand's ta'veren-power to attract recruits, he would have had a much smaller force than the 500 or so now at the BT. However, given that two or three percent of people can learn to channel [Guide: 2, The One Power and the True Source, 18], and that Taim's army of followers was of a "normal" Randland size (on the order of a couple thousand), he should have been able to get at least 10-20 men who could have been useful. Even ten male channelers is nothing to sneeze at, and yet Taim the False Dragon had no channeling followers.
Minion Taim: If Taim was under the Forsaken's thumb all this time, there could be a number of good reasons why he didn't build his own Black Tower - the most obvious being that Ishy/Demandred wouldn't let him.
Non-Dark Taim: There are other possible reasons Taim didn't train any other channelers. Perhaps he didn't have time. Perhaps he was worried that they'd turn against him. Perhaps when he saw his first experiments in training go mad in two years or so [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], he gave the idea up.
Counter-argument: As for time, he supposedly spent 15 years or so as a channeler before declaring himself the Dragon. He didn't seem to be in any big hurry. Taim isn't the sort of guy to worry about most of his subordinate channelers betraying him-- he's shown himself to be a master at inspiring admiration and loyalty in his troops; he's got a regular cult of personality among the Asha'man. As for the ones he didn't feel he could trust, he's not the sort of guy to be shy about killing them outright. As for the madness, he is known to be a totally ruthless fellow. He'd have no problem using his followers for the year or two they had of sanity and then killing them.
17) The Renegade Asha'man.
A quick list of Gedwyn, Rochaid, Kisman, and Torval's curriculum vitae in TPOD:
- They set up the Illianer rebels to attempt to assassinate Rand, supposedly at the instigation of Aes Sedai.
- Torval tried to make Rand suspicious of Egwene's army which was, at the time, marching towards Caemlyn and the BT.
- Possibly, Gedwyn tried to subvert or cause problems with High Lord Weiramon.
- Taim set them up as "deserters" who tried to kill Rand (see section 1.4.10).
Originally, none of this pointed one way or the other. Both Minion Taim and Non-Dark Taim would be interested in exacerbating the tensions between Rand and the Aes Sedai, for reasons already discussed. Similarly, either Non-Dark Taim or Minion Taim would benefit from having a force of channelers who worked independently of the BT, and whose loyalty he could count upon, and whose actions he wouldn't have to justify to Rand.
However, Kisman's POV in WH changed matters:
"Kill him," the M'Hael had ordered, before sending them to Cairhien, but he had been as displeased that they were found out as that they had failed. Far Madding was to be their last chance; he had made that as plain as polished brass. Dashiva had simply vanished. Kisman did not know whether he had run or the M'Hael had killed him, and he did not care.
"Kill him," Demandred had commanded later, but he had added that it would be better they died than let themselves be discovered again. By anyone, even the M'Hael, as if he did not know of Taim's order.
And later still, Moridin had said, "Kill him if you must, but above all, bring everything in his possession to me. That will redeem your previous transgressions."
[WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 441-443]
Besides positively confirming that Taim was behind the attack in Cairhien, this quote also established that the renegade Asha'man were definitely all Darkfriends, and working in some capacity for both Taim and Demandred. (It's unclear from the quote whether they were collectively also reporting to Moridin, or just Kisman was, or whether Moridin's visit was a once-off deal, or what.)
Minion Taim: Why would four powerful DF Asha'man listen to Taim unless he was also a DF? What are the odds that Non-Dark Taim's orders would be virtually identical to a Forsaken's? Plus, it's clear that Kisman expected Demandred to know of Taim's order; this only makes sense if Taim is also a Darkfriend - a Darkfriend working directly for Demandred, in fact. [Pam Korda]
Non-Dark Taim: As to the latter point, an alternative interpretation is that Kisman simply expects Demandred to be very well-informed about Black Tower politics and policies, as though there were a spy in the camps [John Novak]. For the former, Taim wanting Rand dead doesn't necessarily mean he's working for the Dark. Plenty of other people who aren't Darkfriends have tried to get rid of Rand, or plotted to. It could be that Kisman et al are only following Taim's orders because they happen to coincide with Demandred's.
Counterargument: Possible, maybe, but unlikely. The Fearsome Foursome have been glued to Taim from the get-go.
18) The TPOD attack and cleansing the Taint.
After showing Taim the farm and testing Flinn in LOC, Rand and Taim have the following very interesting exchange, as Rand grouses about all the things he has to accomplish:
[Rand speaking]:"... And cleanse saidin, so men don't have to fear going mad, and the world doesn't have to fear men channeling. I'll..."
[...] "Cleanse saidin," Taim said softly. "I think that would take more power than you can imagine." His eyes lidded thoughtfully. "I have heard of things called sa'angreal. Do you have one you think you could actually - "
[LOC: 3, A Woman's Eyes, 91]
The significance of this quote is obvious. It means that Taim knew about Rand's intention to cleanse saidin long before Rand's slip in TPOD - he knew, in fact, from almost the moment the prohibition about killing Rand was put into place!
So, what does this mean?
Non-Dark Taim: Well, one way of looking at it is that the passage is evidence that Taim is not Demandred's minion. Follow the bouncy ball:
The FS, including and especially Demandred, know that the DO has forbidden anyone from killing Rand, as of the prologue of LOC. Taim finds out almost immediately afterwards that Rand is planning to cleanse the Taint, but nothing happens. (Well, a lot happens, but certainly the "don't kill" order is not changed.)
Then, in TPOD, Rand talks about cleansing saidin again - to Taim's lackey Torval, but much more importantly, to Dashiva, aka Osan'gar. With the result that Osan'gar tries to kill Rand at the end of the book.
True, Osan'gar merely joined in with an attempt on Rand's life already in motion, instigated by Taim, but what the above quote strongly suggests is that Taim's attack on Rand at the end of TPOD could not have been motivated by Rand's plan to cleanse the Taint. If it was, he would have tried to kill Rand two books earlier.
Osan'gar joining the attack, on the other hand, almost had to be motivated by that knowledge - and given what a wuss he was it's impossible to imagine he didn't have permission to do so from Moridin. He took advantage of Taim's conveniently timed assassination attempt to try and kill Rand.
The very strong implication here is that the FS in general didn't find out about Rand's plan to cleanse saidin until Osan'gar did, in TPOD. The obvious conclusion to draw, then, is that Taim could not be the Forsaken's minion, since Taim has apparently known for ages what the FS didn't discover until TPOD. The attack in Cairhien, then, was all on Taim's own initiative and had nothing to do with cleansing the taint.
This incidentally would explain perfectly why Taim was so shocked that Osan'gar joined in on the assassination attempt. If the attack was entirely motivated by Taim's own political self-interest, he would have had no idea what induced Dashiva to join in.
Minion Taim: A couple of things. First, Taim seems perfectly capable of being Moridin/Demandred's lackey and yet still playing his own game as well; Will Frank suggests, for instance, that if Taim swore allegiance to the Shadow so he could avoid going mad, he might not tell his boss about what Rand said in hopes that Rand might actually accomplish the Cleansing. Of course, later when Osan'gar also found out about Rand's plan, he had no choice but to go along with the decision to kill him.
Or, secondly, it's also possible that Taim simply didn't take Rand's boast seriously at that point.
19) Logain's News
When Rand meets with Logain at Algarin's manor [KOD 18: News for the Dragon] he attempts to convince Rand that Something Bad is going down in the Black Tower. Rand brushes it aside as Logain's jealousy over Taim having a higher rank. While :Logain isn't exactly Mr. Modesty, he does make some valid points about Taim's actions:
"Taim wasn't pleased at me taking so many out of the Tower and not telling him where they were going. I thought he was going to rip up your order. He tried every trick to learn where you are. Oh, he burns to know that. His eyes were practically on fire. I wouldn't put it past him to have me put to the question if I'd been fool enough to meet him without company. One thing pleased him, though: that I did not take any of his cronies. That was plain on his face." He smiled, a dark smile, not amused. " There are forty-one of those now, by the way. He's given over a dozen men the Dragon pin in the past few days, and he has above fifty more in his 'special' classes, most of them men recruited just lately. He's planning something, and I doubt you'll like it."
[KOD 18: News for the Dragon]
Minion Taim: This isn't the first time Logain has tried to complain about Taim, but it is the first time he brings up the special classes for those in Taim's group. If Taim is training new Dreadlords, this might be where he indoctrinates them to the Shadow. Also, why is Taim so upset by Logain's orders?
Non-Darkfriend Taim: Taim's annoyance at the secret orders could just be the very reasonable ire of a man who's used to being in charge suddenly being cut out of the loop. And Logain never says why those special classes are so sinister. Given that it's the Black Tower, they probably aren't about hugs and lolipops, but neither is there any indication beyond "I doubt you'll like it" to indicate this isn't just some kind of Asha'man Capstone Experience.
20) The KOD Epilogue
In the epilogue of KOD, the Red Ajah sends a group to request Asha'man Warders. Taim responds by acting creepy. He has a throne room, laid out with a black and red tile floor and violently themed tapistries. When Pevara asks if they can bond his men as Warders, he responds with "Let the Lord of Chaos rule.", something we have only heard minions of the Shadow use before.
Minion Taim: "Let the Lord of Chaos rule" could be part of his general orders from Demandred, the only Forsaken we've seen tasked specifically with this. Black and red are the colors of Moridin's livery. Homage to his Dark Master? Or coincidence?
Non-Darkfriend Taim: Taim claims "Let the Lord of Chaos" rule is an old saying. Just because Pevara doesn't know it, doesn't mean that it's not actually a saying. Lots of nations have their own idioms.