The Witcher has a fantastic cast, and one of the stars that shone the brightest in the show’s past three seasons was MyAnna Buring, who portrayed the sorceress and Rectoress of Aretuza Tissaia de Vries. Buring, alongside the beloved Henry Cavill, has concluded her role in the Netflix series. Though it is possible Buring could be brought back for visions or flashbacks like other deceased characters like Pavetta and Calanthe, Tissaia’s story has concluded.
Buring has brought so much depth and emotion to the role of Tissaia and her relationship with Chalotra’s Yennefer, that we’d be remiss not to take a moment to appreciate her immense contribution to The Witcher franchise.
SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers for Season 3’s final episode are included in this article.
MyAnna Buring’s farewell to The Witcher: “She was fire to play”
Following the release of Volume 2 of Season 3, which features Tissaia’s death, Buring shared a heartfelt farewell on her Instagram page. In this post, Buring chose to shine the spotlight on the many people who worked behind the scenes to make the show possible.
“She was fire to play… I loved it! Thank you to all who made it possible [showrunner Lauren Hissrich, casting director Sophie Holland, executive producer Steve Gaub] all our directors, writers, producers, editors (BIG PROPS), hair and makeup teams, costume teams, stunts, designers, all the many crew, post-production teams, and cast, and all of you who have watched and followed this journey so far- huge love and chaos.”
Though this post is mostly a farewell to the cast and crew, Buring has given her farewell to Tissaia as well in an interview with IGN.
“In terms of the character, I think the best stories have characters come to an end so that new things can blossom and grow. Tissaia has been a wonderful character to follow, so as tragic as her passing is, I also think it is a huge celebration that we got to get to know her at all.”
But Tissaia isn’t the only character MyAnna Buring has portrayed in the Witcher franchise. Her Witcher journey began long before Netflix acquired the rights to the series.
MyAnna’s Witcher journey began with the game’s Anna Henrietta
MyAnna Buring’s contribution to the Witcher franchise goes beyond the Netflix series. The first time she entered the Continent, Buring was lending her voice to an iconic character in 2015’s award-winning video game The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Buring’s character was central to the video game’s biggest expansion, titled Blood and Wine, in which Geralt visits the Duchy of Toussaint and her ruler, Duchess Anna Henrietta.
Anna Henrietta was first introduced in the fifth novel in the Witcher Saga, Lady of the Lake, as a young ruler of Toussaint who falls in love with Jaskier. In the books, the character’s presence was rather limited, and so it was a pleasant surprise that The Witcher III‘s Blood and Wine expansion gave her more depth and screen-time.
This deeper characterization was magnificently executed by MyAnna Buring, whose voice imbued Anna Henrietta with playful charm, intelligence, and leadership.
As such, a rather minor character from Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels was given an opportunity to shine, and MyAnna Buring shined indeed. Years later, Netflix had begun producing its adaptation of Sapkowski’s novels, and MyAnna Buring returned to the Continent.
Tissaia and Yennfer: Mother and Daughter
As the Rectoress of Aretuza, it is Tissaia who first discovers the young Yennefer. Tissaia finds Yennefer in a pigsty, a hunchback girl who is hated and mocked by her fellow villagers, and even by her father. Unlike all of them, Tissaia sees Yennefer’s great potential and knows that she could, one day, become a powerful sorceress.
Tissaia purchases Yennefer from her father for mere four marks and takes her “Piglet” from the pigsty and to the Aretuza school of sorceresses. There, a distraught Yennefer attempts to take her own life by slitting her wrists – and is saved by Tissaia.
This is the beginning of a strong parental relationship, in which Tissaia becomes not just a mentor but an adoptive mother of sorts to Yennefer. Though, despite her love for Yennefer, Tissaia shows her no mercy or preferential treatment during her magical training. As Yennefer struggles to achieve her potential, Tissaia tells her that: “Sometimes, a flower is just a flower, and the best thing it can do for us is die.“
Eventually, Tissaia’s strict tutoring manages to unlock great powers in Yennefer. With Yennefer’s training complete, the two walk their separate ways. Yennefer begins her role as a court mage in Aedirn, while Tissaia remains Rectoress at Aretuza, teaching the next round of sorceresses.
Tissaia and Yennefer next cross paths when the Rectoress convices her pupil to return to Aretuza ahead of the coming war with Nilfgaard. Despite her rebellious streak and distaste for the politics of the Northern Kingdoms, Yennefer agrees to join Tissaia in the Battle of Sodden Hill. There, Tissia gives Yen one final push to realize her powers. “It’s your turn, to save us all. This Continent. This is your legacy.”
“How?“Yennefer asks. “I can’t!“
“You can. Everything you have ever felt, everything you’ve buried… Forget the bottle, let your Chaos explode.” Yennefer follows Tissaia’s advice, singlehandedly destroying the Nilfgaardian army in a wave of fire. But then, Yennefer disappears. Tissaia searches for her on the battlefield, screaming her name, to no avail. Yennefer is presumed dead.
When Yennefer returns to Aretuza in Season 2, it comes to Tissaia to protect her from Stregobor and other mages who believe she has become a Nilfgaardian spy. Tissaia convinces the mages to give Yen a chance to prove her loyalty in the execution of Cahir, but Yen chooses to free Cahir instead and flee, leaving the mages in chaos.
In Season 3, Yennefer returns to Tissaia and apologizes for her stunt, but understands that an apology will not suffice. With help from Tissaia, Yen organizes the Conclave of Mages, an event that would serve to realign the mages ahead of future conflicts. But, it turns out to be a trap, a trap which was arranged right under Tissaia’s nose, by her lover Vilgefortz.
In a desperate and shocked state, as a very last resort during the coup, Tissaia casts Alzur’s Thunder, a most powerful spell, aimed indiscriminately at anyone in the vicinity, killing both enemies and allies.
The devastation of the Thanedd Coup, which not only destroys Tissaia’s home of Aretuza but also costs the lives of many of her friends and colleagues, is more than Tissaia can bear.
Yennefer sees Tissaia’s fragile state and urges her to stay strong, that she is needed to rebuild the Brotherhood. But the weight of responsibility is too much for Tissaia to bear, and so she chooses to take her own life as Yennefer attempted all those years ago, by slitting her wrists.
Before her death, Tissaia smokes her last pipe and leaves Yennefer a letter, addressed to “Piglet”, her nickname for Yennefer. “One of the first things we learn about Chaos is that it always has consequences. There’s a cost to this magic, and eventually, we all must pay. It is not a gift, it is a trade, and often that trade leads us to dark places. But there are always bright spots.
Teaching you has been the biggest bright spot of my life, and I would love to see you through the next leg of your journey. I know you will do great things, my daughter. But I’m afraid I cannot. There is a cost I must pay. Sometimes, a flower is just a flower, and the best thing it can do for us is die.“
MyAnna Buring has been an excellent Tissaia, and we were lucky to have her. Despite the tragic end, Tissaia’s legacy will live on through Yennefer.