Curious, creative, adaptive, and inventive, the gnomes came to the Sea of Sigils with a different outlook than other races; arriving to test and improve their creations. Advances in navigational equipment, cartography, and wind propulsion were shown to be correct and helped the elves and humans get their ships across the wide oceans to the Isle of Caspiar.
The founding of Dragon Port and the exploration with the other races led to the discovery of something that changed gnomish, dwarvish, Drow, and everyone else's lives forever.
Cobalt Blue Vatrinite.
The Drow had been using it as a decorative trade item for eons, being made into jewelry and ceremonial weaponry. In the hands of the dwarves and gnomes working together, this special form of Vatrinite was reinvented as an incredibly explosive material. The metallurgy of the dwarves created the cannons and hand weapons which began to rapidly revolutionize warfare in this newly discovered region.
The elegant ships of the elves became floating platforms for dwarvish cannons firing the gunpowder of the gnomes. Things were forever different. The balance of power shifted, and the realm is trying to determine how to cope with this new valuable, and powerful element.