Gno is high in the Mountains of Sorrow and is far from most of the perils of the Wastes. Occasional Imperial Reclamation teams make their way toward Gno, but since the gnomes invented burstpowder weapons, the dark elves have stayed away. The gnomes expect this is only a temporary peace, as they've seen how effectively Thonk has used the weapons against the Empire, and know the dark elves covet the technology.
Unlike the gnomish enclaves on each of the Shambles, the gnomes who live in Gno are much more focused on engineering and mechanical competency. They do stay as neutral as possible in the affairs of Shambles but the trade situation with Thonk has made gnomes and Thonkians allies. Gno increasingly relies upon the might of Thonk to keep the Empire at bay and to forge the weapons to use burstpowder.
Gno is a loosely run small town that allows any to have a say in important decisions. As a matter of course, masters tend to have more sway in meetings, but that is not always the case. The gnomes won't turn from a good idea simply because an apprentice voiced it.
A note on the feel of Gno
The gnomes of Gno are "tinker" gnomes, in that they like to tinker with mechanical objects. They are not meant to be the kind of "tinker" gnomes that are incompetent and played for comedic effect. Any particular PC or NPC can have any personality, but the idea of a blundering master who constantly blows up himself and others is against type for the gnomes of Gno. In the Age of Shambles, such an bumbling gnome wouldn't last long.
Bat guano is an important component to burstpowder, which makes the extensive bat caves near Gno of great strategic value. A constant guard including a rotating squad of Thonkians watches the caves constantly, though most don't have any idea why guano is of such importance.
Apprentices are sent down to harvest guano regularly, and most do so with only modest complaint. Azin, a female apprentice, is quite fond of the bats, and she has taken a special interest in the creatures. After a few months of regular visits to the caves, she's noticed something alarming—the bat population is shrinking. She hasn't been able to discern the cause, and she's not even sure she's right. She's worried one of the reasons for the population decline is too many gnomes visiting the caves, and she is fairly certain if she brings her concerns to her master, the caverns will be filled with anxious gnomes. But it could be more than a traffic problem—there could be a new predator in the region, an illness could be spreading in the bats, or there could be some magic cast by dark elves causing the decline. Whatever it is, she knows she needs to find some help soon.
The Gearworks is the name for the numerous small caverns off of the large main cave of Gno. The gear works are labs and work areas for the masters of Gno. This setup provides some protection for the occasional mishap or fire. Each of the small caverns, or cogs, of the Gearworks takes on the personality of the master or masters working there. Some are clean, orderly, and efficient affairs. Others are chaotic messes filled with all kinds of odds and ends. The gnomes do their best to match new masters to a cog that fits them, though tight confines and the rigors of everyday life ensure there is always some conflict brewing in each cog.
Mahal is the master responsible for the discovery of burstpowder, and he's become quite popular for his contribution to Gno's way of life and standard of living. The only problem is, now people are expecting something new. It's not anything overt, but colleagues from around the Gearworks stop by regularly to ask Mahal and his peers about his current research. Mahal has no ideas. He's tossed around a few things, but nothing has worked like the accidental mixture of guano, charcoal, and sulfur. Yeah, accidental. He knows the other masters would scorn him if they knew a simple series of mistakes had led to such and important discovery.
All of this pressure has Mahal thinking he wants to take a vacation. The only problem is he's "too valuable" to leave Gno. So said all of the other masters when he packed his bags a few weeks ago. Since then he's been under a very gentle house arrest. He's free to go anywhere except outside of the enclave. And he hates it. Upon occasion, people come to trade with Gno directly. The next time a group of people come to town, Mahal has a mind to hire them to free him. Or be his bodyguards. He's not quite sure how he'll phrase the request.