The prerequisites are that you must have first completed the task called A Call to Court and the quest called A Return to Court. The quest triggers when you inform Marshall Forwyn in the Great Hall that you're ready to take the battle to Lord Gathbin.
The battle begins with a scripted interaction. Aggressive and Passionate replies are available early the interaction as rallying cries, but I am not sure if they have any in-game consequence.
Things get more complicated when the opposing army is aided by Battle Mages throwing spells at a distance, Ruautai Berserkers breaking in on your flank, and Bleak Walkers rallying the enemy troops. That is where any allies you may have recruited during the quest called A Return to Court come into play. Those allies include:
The Crag Ogres if you completed The Ogre Matron in a way that did not end up with the deaths of Matron Beregan or any of her Crag Ogres.
Readceras Archers from the Iron Flail army if you completed The Iron Flail quest in a way that convinced Adaryc to leave willingly.
You can use each one to neutralize one of the three threats from the opposing army. Keep in mind that a given ally may succeed against one threat, but not another. For example, Assasssins from House Doemenel will take out the Battle Mages, but the Knights of the Crucible will fail against them. It's a matter of finding the right deployment.
You may recall that it is possible to talk Captain Emery out of attacking you during the quest called A Return to Court. If you did, you may also recall that she'll indicate the vague possibility of joining your side. She'll initially remain on Gathbin's side once the battle is joined through the scripted interaction. However, you can convince her to switch to your side, but only if you successfully neutralize all three of the Battle Mages, Bleak Walkers and Ruautai Berserkers. That means that if you want to get Emery to switch sides, you need to have recruited all three special sets of allies to your army beforehand, and then deploy them correctly to neutralize all three threats from the opposing army.
The party's direct participation in the battle begins once the scripted interaction ends. Your enemies will consist of about 30+ soldiers of varying classes, including Lord Gathbin himself. A reasonably high-level and well-equipped party shouldn't have too much trouble pasting the enemy with a combination of physical attacks and offensive spells. Most of the enemies will drop armor and weapons of Fine or occasionally Exceptional quality. The enemy includes the odd Wizard who will drop a Battlemage Grimoire.
Chancellor Warrin will show up, congratulate you, and inform you that the Erl wants you to contribute taxes to Defiance Bay. Diplomatic, Rational and Stoic replies will accede to the request. Refusing to pay taxes will result in an extraordinary loss of reputation with Defiance Bay. Your response to the request for taxes marks the end of this quest.
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