Playing in Tuluk can be extremely rewarding and yet it can be extremely disappointing.
Tuluk is an evolving culture that hasn't fully stabilized and is developing through two mechanisms - guidance which is in the form of documentation and evolution through the actions of the players.
The documentation is clear about what Tuluk aspires to be. A foreboding location where a secret becomes the most potent of weapons. Culture, through artistic methods, is the ultimate of Tuluki expression. From the noble caste downwards people in Tuluk attempt to delve into the subtleties of language, pose, and form.
As an example, let us look at assassination. Assassination is frequent and respected. Assassination is treated as an artform. A well done kill is admired by all and appreciated. There is a licensing system to keep track of these events.
Another great aspect of Tuluk is the development of the Poets' Circle. As the documentation suggests those with the ability to speak with double meaning have the means to cultivate a lot of power. Therefore the bards of Tuluk are very well respected. Bards of the Circle (Driamusek) teach the noble youths their manners, etiquette, and poise. This should give an indication as to the potential within bards. Conversely, not all bards will ever become influential. It is just like anything else - some will become immensely powerful while others will continue to just exist.
And this is where it becomes complex. Tuluk is a caste society. There will never be a bard who is greater than a noble. It is simply inconceivable. The castes do not mix romantically. You will never see a bastard noble in Tuluk. To do such a thing is anathema and will result in the noble "disappearing" (being killed) and the noble's House losing a lot of political clout from such a transgression. But, to further complicate matters, because the nobility gained greater power through the cultivation of patronage relationships during the Occupation of Tuluk you will see a lot of nobles chatting it up with commoners and even developing friendships.
This leads to something that is unique in Tuluk and rarely used to its fullest - patronage. Patronage is a relationship where an artisan gains a patron to support their efforts while the patron receives the prestige and other benefits from having a partisan. Patronage is _not_ employment. Patronage is a more loose relationship that seems to confuse many in Tuluk - a patron can have many partisans while a partisan typically has but one patron. And yet this partisan can still take on contracts from others. In other words, merely paying someone to do something does not make them a partisan. Patronage is a mutually beneficial relationship between patron and partisan that is not employment but is still a formal agreement. A true patronage relationship will not see the partisan recruited into the House of the patron as an employee.
Patronage came about from the Occupation where loyal servants of the Houses sheltered and protected nobles from the Allanaki forces. When Tuluk became free and the Noble Houses remaining were restored to power - they had strong ties back to the artisans and commoners of the Gol Krathu. Suddenly, the noble third of the triumvirate held real power not just ‘theoretical power.' Patronage began with nobles and commoners and then expanded to templars and commoners. Since then it has further expanded to rich commoners and skilled artisans. In other words you may see patrons being nobles, templars, or merchants.
This all returns back to where Tuluk is and what is it is like to live there. Tuluk is a police state that is kept very much under the iron fist of the templarate. People who say the wrong thing can and will disappear. The surface of Tuluk appears to be calm and, to some, even gentle. The reality is that Tuluk holds to its secretive ways. The prime example of that is how a public execution is a very rare event - instead the perpetrator will simply vanish. It may be that a templar will walk into a tavern and ask to speak to someone in private - after that moment none will see the person again. That is the quint-essential Tuluk.
It is all about secrets. That is the best way I can explain Tuluk without writing another ten pages to show how this doesn't mean that people in Tuluk are always kind to one another or even necessarily polite. But, certain things are not tolerated - like brawling. Crude and coarse activities are frowned upon and viewed as Allanaki. If you need to "reduce yourself" to a blatant insult expect to be mocked by peers. Barbarism (overt violence, insults, and crudeness) is something that Allanakis do a self-respecting Tuluki does not engage in such acts. Of course, there are times when this type of reaction is perfectly fine - it is a matter of understanding the nature of the city.
I am going to give a few examples of great Tuluki moments:
One is about a famous and respected artisan. This person is well known and at the top of his game, we'll call him target. Unfortunately for him, he upset another well known artisan and we'll call this one protagonist. Over the course of IC years the protagonist continually undermines the famous target's position. The protagonist uses his patron and all his influence to cast the target into suspicion from dealing with magickers to engaging in treasonous activities. The target knows nothing of this as the protagonist and target continue to talk to one another, share meals, drink, even toast together. After awhile the target simply vanishes. No one knows what happened. That is Tuluk's way.
Another: Two women are in Sanctuary and one insults the other. The argument goes on for awhile although it remains fairly low-key. Later that week the first woman approaches a well-known contact for assassination and says she wants the other one killed. An assassin is contacted, a license is bought, and this other woman is killed with an artistic strike. That is Tuluk's way.
A third: A new noble is on the scene and is seeking to expand his personal sphere of influence. He hires a bard to sing a few songs about his greatness and exploits. In his eagerness to hire a bard the noble fails to ask all the pertinent questions (including if the bard has a patron.) This bard is patroned by a rival noble and thus composes the commissioned piece but includes a series of cleverly veiled sleights that only a few in the noble caste would understand. The noble is ecstatic with the piece and gives the bard a bonus while the bard's patron also gives the bard a bonus for a job well done. That is Tuluk's way.
There is more, a lot more, because Tuluk is a dynamic and evolving culture.
For specific answers:
How hard is it to survive in Tuluk's social setting?
It is easy enough. The difficult part is understanding the complexities of relationships between artisans, commoners, merchants, nobles, and templars. The dynamic is different from Allanak.
Are nobles and templars out to get you?
Not as such. It is in the best interest of the nobility to cultivate relationships with commoners. Templars have been doing the exact same thing. But, if you do things that are not allowed (talking openly about magickers for example), then expect to be disappeared. This is a police state.
Why is Allanak seemingly lacking in social complexity to Tuluk?
Allanak tends to wear its hatred on its sleeve. Tuluk tends to keep most of it a secret. Tuluk is a more secretive society and that leads to greater complexity in social relations.
Any tips on what I should do in portraying a pc in the north?
Yes, understand that it is a true caste society. Understand that bards are the ‘rock stars' of the society. Know that artisans are very well respected. Remember where Tuluk comes from (a city that was destroyed by magickers then taken over by Allanak and then after a heroic struggle regained for its own). A fierce pride in the Ivory is a good thing.
Does it still hold true that citizens of Gol Krathu have fairer features?
To a limited extent. There are many tribes that are quite dark skinned.