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The tithing system was first suggested by Red Hanrahan to Paul Benden as Red began his new hold at Ruatha. The system was formalized when Sean Connell expanded from one weyr (Fort Weyr) to four (Benden Weyr, Telgar Weyr, and Ista Weyr).
Traditionally, a tithe consists of the best provisions a Hold or Craft had to offer. Because most Weyrs are not able to support agriculture, most Weyrs are completely dependent on the generosity of those they protect. This can cause problems during Intervals, when dragonriders are not seen to be useful.
In the Southern Continent, tithes are not as necessary, as Weyrs in the South are built on open ground, with native plants providing food resources. Tithes are overseen by the Weyrwoman, who is responsible for monitoring supplies.
Because the Ninth Pass is to be the last Pass on Pern, tithes are scheduled to end with the Pass's end. Thus, a portion of the South has been set aside for dragonriders, so that dragon and riders can have their own holds to support themselves.