The Cabal was formed by Mordenkainen to advance the study of magic by gathering the greatest Wizards of the age. To gain admission to the Cabal, an Wizard had to have created a new spell. Many lesser Magic-Users sought apprenticeship under to the Cabal's tutelage. The Cabal included Rary, who would later go on to betray his allies and shatter the organization into competing schools of thought. Full members of the Cabal wielded Staves of Power.
Following the destruction of the Cabal, there is no central authority for magical research or education. Petty rivalries among Magic-Users have led to magical duels, assassinations, and theft. Magic-Users have resorted to seeking the protection of temporal authorities, such as Lord Stefan or, in the case of Rary, the Red Dragon.
Art by Earl Otus, copyright 1980 by TSR, Inc, posted under a fair use rationale (non-commercial, nonharmful).