|Gonff, Prince of Mousethieves|
- "Thief, rogue, warrior, questor, but all for the good of other creatures."
- ―Brother Hubert
Gonff the Mousethief was the best friend of Martin the Warrior, husband of Columbine, father of Gonff II, great-grandfather of Bryony, and the ancestor of Dandin, the Gonfelin Thieves, Samolus Fixa, Bisky, and Andio. Known for his talents as a musician and writer of rhymes, Gonff was especially notorious for his resourcefulness as a thief.
The self-proclaimed "Prince of Mousethieves", Gonff was renowned for his many talents and his irrepressible sense of humor. His reputation as a thief stemmed from his ability to pick locks, perform voice imitation, and move swiftly and unnoticed in the dark. Almost always in a good mood, sometimes even impudent, his ability to find hope and joy in the midst of the most depressing situations made him a much cherished and admired mouse. This was especially the case amongst the otters, such as Queen Garraway Bullow, with whom he was great friends. Gonff called everyone he met "matey" due to his great respect of the otters, who frequently used the term.
Despite having a very good appetite and a plump physique, Gonff was very agile and deft with his paws. Gonff's artistic talents included playing the flute, singing, composing, poetry writing, and voice imitation. Goody Stickle once commented that Mossflower Woods was singing through Gonff. Devoted to his friends and family, he was always ready for action and proved an invaluable ally in any fighting situation. His main weapons were his daggers, his voice, and his wit.
In addition to his ability to lift valuables from under the nose of his enemies, like the Doomwyte jewels, Gonff was also a great charmer, especially when he wooed the mouse maid Columbine, who eventually became his wife.
Gonff was a devoted father to his son, and often missed his family during his travels.
Gonff never knew his parents, who presumably died during one of the woodlander's failed uprisings against Verdauga. Ben Stickle and his wife, Goody, found Gonff as an infant alone in the woods and raised him.
Gonff was a very energetic and famous member of the Corim, an organization of woodlanders dedicated to fight the rule of Verdauga and his daughter. Using his many talents for slipping in and out of guarded fortresses, the mousethief helped many woodlanders survive the winter by stealing back food from Kotir's larders. When Gonff was finally captured by Tsarmina's soldiers, the Corim devised a plan to rescue him.
Gonff first met Martin in the dungeons of Kotir, showing off some of his underhanded skills by breaking them both out of their cell. Martin and Gonff became fast friends, and their combined skills and abilities allowed them to outwit Tsarmina's army and rejoin the Corim. The Corim's headquarters was located in the home of Bella of Brockhall, who acted as a leader. Bella believed that her father, Boar the Fighter, would be able to lead the residents of Mossflower Woods in challenging Tsarmina's tyranny, and she needed a party of volunteers to bring Boar back to Mossflower.
When Ben's children, Ferdy and Coggs, were captured by the terrible wildcat, Gonff offered to help rescue the small hedgehogs. However, Gonff quickly realized that he was more valuable as a companion to Martin in Bella's quest, and, in characteristic Gonff fashion, told Martin he would be "a good matey to walk by your side through thick and thin."
Martin, Gonff, and Dinny journeyed from Brockhall, across the woodlands to the Great South Stream, through Batmount and the Swampland of toads, encountering many creatures, friends and foes. Along the way, they met Log-a-Log Big Club, who helped them navigate the tricky currents and followed them in their adventures. After a challenging trek along the parched sandy beach surrounding Salamandastron, Gonff and his friends eventually found Boar the Fighter.
While the trio were at Salamandastron, Boar forged new weapons for his guests, including a dagger for Gonff. Thanks to this additional weapon, Gonff often used two daggers during battles. Soon their new skills and weapons were to be tested, and Gonff fought heroically alongside Martin, Boar and their friends against great hordes of sea rats led by Ripfang. On their return from Salamandastron, Martin, Gonff, and their friends used their newly gained experience to help the Corim defeat Tsarmina.
Shortly after, Gonff married Columbine, and had a son, also named Gonff, but known as Gonflet to escape confusion. They resided in Saint Ninian's church. Later, he, Dinny, and Martin went questing again in order to find out more about Martin's father. Gonff's friendship with the otters and knowledge of many parts of Mossflower Woods provided a great help for their quest. His wit and boldness also helped make an ally out of the dangerous Krar Woodwatcher, who later saved them from an angry swan.
Once while Gonff was walking through Mossflower Woods, he saw two little lights. He stayed hidden and watched as a stoat chased the lights and was led to his death into a swamp. Afterwards, Gonff decided to follow the lights himself, but soon lost them just after dawn. Luckily he discovered the underground lair of the Doomwytes in a nearby hill. He stealthily infiltrated the cavern, then hid behind a pile of bones and noticed the Great Doomwyte Idol. After watching the vermin who worshiped the idol execute two innocent shrews, he stole the jewels that were its eyes to avenge the pair. He returned to Redwall Abbey and offered the jewels to Columbine, which she refused. Gonff hid the stones, and left a series of riddles leading to their location. One of his descendants and their family was later banished from Redwall for finding and stealing one of the jewels, thus establishing the Gonfelin tribe.
Gonff's son also had a son, whom Bella described as the spitting image of his grandfather, and who apparently also inherited the ability to slip away unnoticed.
Gonff's flute and Dandin
Gonff preferred to use a reed flute, and his most famous flute was later given to Dandin, who also inherited his ancestor's artistic talents. This flute was made of applewood, instead of reed, and was carved with beautiful ornamental designs, most notably the letter "G", located near the mouthpiece. When Abbess Germaine offered the flute to Gonff as a present, the mousethief believed it to be too elegant for him and left it in Redwall Abbey. Brother Hubert found it amongst his old records and handed it to Dandin, who promptly displayed gifts in singing and composition.
- Brian Jacques attested multiple times that he used a younger version of himself as a model for the character of Gonff, and that Gonff was his favorite character and hero.
- The name Gonff comes from "gonif", the Yiddish word for thief.