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The High Tinker is the highest political office in Gnomeregan, and of Gnomeregan. The gnomes have not had a proper king or queen for over four hundred years, instead preferring to elect their highest officials for set terms of service. (This form of government seems to be a meritocracy) These men and women hold grand titles (for example "King of the Gnomes") but only hold their power for set terms of office, after which they return to the work force. The ruler holds the seat of the High Tinker.
The legitimately recognized High Tinker is , who has held the office for several decades. After the irradiation of Gnomeregan, Mekkatorque led his people from Tinker Town in Ironforge, until he led Alliance forces in reclaiming the surface of Gnomeregan. He now resides at New Tinkertown, where many former exiles have settled.
Mekkatorque's former chief advisor, , planned on not only becoming "High Tinker" but also being the first true "King of Gnomeregan" in over four hundred years. He currently controls the halls and leper gnomes of the irradiated city.
While it is unknown how long each term lasts, it appears that one can be elected an unlimited amount of times. Gelbin Mekkatorque, current High Tinker of the Gnomes, who was described as having taken the position at a young age, has held the office for several decades; having already been leading the Gnomes during the beginning of the Second War. While it is unknown how long a gnome lives exactly, Gelbin is well into his elderly years, as seen both in game and in description. While an election being overlooked during a time of crisis such as the Fall of Gnomeregan is understandable, Gelbin's holding of the office for so long before-hand seems to indicate there is no limit to how many times one can be elected High Tinker; just so long as they continue to show what is needed for the position.
In a letter sent to Alliance players during Operation: Gnomeregan, Gelbin claims that "Lawyerbot 2000 informs me that I actually possess no legal authority whatsoever - over gnomes or otherwise - but still, you have to admit that sounded impressive!"