TANIS is a podcast set in the Pacific Northwest and produced by the Public Radio Alliance, which could potentially be described as an alternate reality NPR that exists in a magical universe. It explores the myth of TANIS, the nature of which is unknown, but which has supposedly been alluded to throughout history in various forms, myths, and legends. It also happens to be, in our humble opinion, one of the most brilliant serialized fiction podcasts out there not to mention an incredible work of occult fiction. The story unfolds throughout the bi-weekly podcast, now in it's third season, through the eyes of Nic Silver, the "cousin" of producer Terry Miles and his investigative partner, a hacker named MK, and effortlessly weaves fiction with science, conspiracy, urban legend, folklore, and of course, the occult, so that the lines are continually blurred by design. Notable occult figures, urban legends, conspiracy theory, and figures of folklore such as Aleister Crowley, Nicholas Flamel, Charles Forte, Susan Northrup, Baba Yaga, The Cecil Hotel, The Voynich Manuscript and even internet mysteries such as the Markovian Parallax Denigrate and Cicada 3301 all make an appearance in the story of TANIS which ultimately asks the question: What if all the great mysteries in the world were actually one mystery? This is what a re-enchanted world looks like.
We spoke to Terry Miles about TANIS, magic, storytelling, and mystery.
Does your interest in the occult extend beyond that of a writer and producer?
I've been obsessed with mystery and the occult since I was a kid. I'd spend hours in the library reading about ESP, Crowley, Aliens and everything weird. I continue to think about all of this stuff daily. It's an ongoing concern.
What constitutes magic to you?
Science is magic.
Why do you think good mysteries are so important in the internet age?
I really do feel like we're missing something in this amazing interconnected world. Like Nic mentions in the podcast, going back isn't the answer, but there is something that we're losing by this ability to look up everything online, I think.
Do you think storytelling is a magical act?
I feel like storytelling, at least when I'm writing something, feels like accessing a conduit of some kind, like you're transcribing something that's feeding directly into your brain. You certainly conceptualize and sit down to do it, but I do believe there's a source, probably not a metaphysical source, but, rather, something within ourselves...this isn't to say it absolutely isn't some kind of mysterious energy exchange, it's just that it's most likely simply "stream of consciousness," thoughts from deep below your conscious mind feeding you the material.
What's your favorite conspiracy theory?
I still can't believe people actually believe they faked the moon landing.
What is your favorite folktale or urban legend?
Baba Yaga, for sure.
Mark Frost recently published a book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks, which also links the Pacific Northwest to a staggering amount of unexplained phenomena throughout history. What do you think it is about the Pacific Northwest that makes it such a hotbed for the mysterious and bizarre?
I feel like it's the geography and the weather. The green and the rain (that sounds like an alternative band from the nineties).
Without giving anything away of course, what do you think TANIS is?
Nic kind of said it well in the second episode of Season Three:
What it TANIS? An alien force? An environmental...event? Another dimension? That old standby "ants at the side of a freeway who have no way of understanding what a freeway is?"