Ardaic’s not pulling a Downfall-style meltdown here, but the slight pause and cold stare in panel 4 should make you doubt whether he’s as ready to take the L as he says he is. Certainly it seems more spite-driven than strategy-driven to blow open the doors, since by the time they are open, the gnomes will be at least half a mile into tunnels that ordinary-sized humans cannot navigate, making their way out of the vicinity of the capital city before they surface. Assuming Taro hasn’t had time to conscript his old playmates into the army from that time he got kidnapped, the gnomish prisoners Iwatania has are all it’s likely to get.

(What sets gnomish iron apart from regular iron, anyway? It’s probably the obsessive purity of the smelting.)

FB: Kepfer’s too little, Ardaic’s too late.