Magic wands are sticks that shoot magical stuff out of them. Yes? Yes. You’ve all seen Harry Potter, so I’m guessing you have the general grasp.
Magic sticks. The magic goes from wherever, through the wizard and into the wand.
Well what happens when you hack the branches off a whole tree and do that?
This is a Hexcannon, magical artillery. When mechanized magical warfare hits your world, it won’t be with giant robots, or powered armor. That’s insane. Instead it’s gonna be WWI style Shelling, with awful magical howitzers, and all the horrible associations that go with that.
They take the big wand, and they carve a small wooden chair at the back of it, and affix the orichalcum manacles to it, and the safety-collar of banded iron and pyrite. This is the mechanism that keeps it just from firing over and over. They latch the wizard in, and now he’s the firing pin. There’s a big metal sextant, and a manning crew that runs it, with hot brands who force the mage to use the wand over and over until the fresh, sigil carved tree is a used and blackened matchstick of what it once was. Wizard’s probably gone by then too. Only so much even a prodigious mind can take before they lose themselves to pain, and guilt at what they’ve been forced to do.
I know what you’re thinking: why are the wizards unwilling? Certainly they chose sides, or are fighting in the war, yes?
No. Wizards do not care about your petty mortal squabbles. Enough study of the arcane will render them deaf to the incessant ticking of their life’s clock, let alone to all the noise made by those maddened by it. When one has their third interstellar vortex anomaly to decrypt before transcending it’s Aeon Barrier, one does not care that hoary men with calloused hands are carving the trees outside your tower, and men with soft hands and greedy eyes are moving little figures on a map. They’re not even looking at a fully-rendered quasi-dimensional overlay. They are meat and bone and wizards are spirit and mind. Hardly do the twain ever meet.
Which is why when the armored vagrants come and kidnap them, it’s all the worse as a wizard who suddenly has lost his paranormal might. The fatsacks in pompous clothing should have offered riches, heaps of lesser treasures, but often it’s just mediocre pleas, idle threats, and of course, useless coin. Wizards always have enough coin.
This is why wizards stay away from society and study on their own. This is also why covens of them sometimes establish magocracies, or level cities. It’s not meant as an offense, but the wizards all confirmed that city’s 89% chance of sending a band of whiskey-soaked vagrants after them to kill them or rob their coin, or worse, use them up like a battery.
And if you think about it, how awful must it be to be the wizard to made the first of these? The last? To be the mage who first invented them?