The Artificers were the branch of House Illistim which worked to regulate and produce magical artifacts. It was a royal decree that all magical artifacts, whether discovered or invented, would be registered within a week to the Artificers. There would be "severe punishments" for violating this law. These catalogers would painstakingly break down every aspect of a magical item, including the components necessary for crafting one, and all of the steps necessary for actually forging it. These records would then be archived in the Library Aies.
The Role of Invention
House Illistim was famous for producing the most powerful magic artifacts among the Elves. These would often be the works of Artificers, who would take their privileged knowledge of all known constructs, recombining what was known to produce new artifacts. Since the Library Aies has restricted access for those not working for some branch of the state, the registry served more of a state interest than one of innovation, with the Artificers being both the gatekeeper and the keymakers.
Neither protected from replication nor with freedom of access, private inventors were at a significant disadvantage, as registration was not equivalent to patent and Artificers were not prohibited from registering their own artifacts. Some critics might regard this as an incentive for corruption, given the prestige driven nature of Illistim culture, much as a Master of Lore might be accused of wealthy patronage or gaining credit for work performed by assistants using their resources. The Illistim would regard such things, of course, as petty and beneath them.
Nevertheless, there were prominent families associated with the branch, such as the Nellereune whose fame largely derives from their contributions. This family was also responsible for expanding the role of the Artificers into commerce proper. Whether this was responsible for a change of orientation or diminution of the Veythorne family over the millennia is mere speculation.
The Artificers were the branch responsible for maintaining, improving, and creating the vast majority of the Illistim airship fleet. Independent operators would effectively be competing against the Illistim state itself. These dated back to the discovery of veniom and early flight experiments by Alerreth Nellereune Illistim, who was actually a member of the Loremasters. Whenever new discoveries were made related to such flight techniques, which must be registered if devices or material in nature, the Artificers were responsible for incorporating them into the training and monitoring of airship captains.
Due to their powers regarding transport and artifact registration, the Artificers implicitly wielded a great deal of power over Illistim commerce. They were the state agency responsible for establishing new trade routes, as well as directing supplies and resources, as it is far cheaper to transport things via veniom-plated ships than contracting teleportation by mages. The Artificers also had the special privilege of being able to rely on the Arch Magi for assistance.
Though it was possible to learn to pilot airships through careful practice, only the Artificers knew how to make an airship pilot out of a completely non-magical elf. It is suspected that they used some mixture of dreamstone with glimaerstone, perhaps with various refined metals, so that the pilot could direct the ship with his mind. This would minimize the expertise needed to manipulate the forces of veniom.
While they do not charge for training Elves to pilot airships, they will only do so if the would-be navigator passes aptitude tests, and then requiring the captain to spend some number of years working for them in the trade routes business. They skim the profits off the top, and give the captains a cut. Presumably, the rest of the gains belong to the treasury, as the airship fleet is maintained with state resources. The Illistim state in the form of the Artificers, consequently, has a virtual monopoly on heavy cargo transport. However, they will train other Elves outside of this service, provided they are willing to pay some extremely large amount of money. It is much more difficult to deny a corrupt financial interest in this case than with their other functions.
Behind The Scenes
"Illistim Culture - Part II: Branches of the State" - Haethera Illuvassas Illistim (5109 Modern Era)