The confederacy of Icewind Dale is located in the northern part of Faerûn. Most people from elsewhere in the continent consider the place to be just about the farthest-away location from wherever they happen to live.
The dale is just a small area between the Reghed Glacier in east, the gigantic polar ice mass to the north, Sea of Moving Ice in west, and the Spine of the World in south. If you ever get here, just find your way to Bryn Shander, and start following the road southwest toward Hundelstone and from there toward Luskan (but stay the hell out of Luskan - in the Icewind Dale you can freeze to death in days, but in Luskan the pirates will cut you up instantly, if the gatekeepers don't get to do that first). It is probably the most hostile area of the realms, with the dreadful cold north wind (where the dale obviously gets its name), generally awfully cold weather, and lots of really nasty creatures. Not to even mention the barbarian tribes that don't necessarily like the settled folk.
The most central feature of the area is a mountain called Kelvin's Cairn, south of which most settlements can be found. The area has three lakes, which are probably the only reason anyone ever wanted to even try to build any towns here. The lakes - Maer Dualdon to west, Lac Dinneshere to east, and Redwaters to south - provide knucklehead trout, a kind of fish that is not found anywhere else that provides fine ivory-like bone, good material for carvers.
There are ten cities around the area (which is why this area is also often known as The Ten Cities). The biggest is Bryn Shander, a famous trade town, which, unlike other towns, is not on the shore of any of the lakes. Along with Targos, it's also the only one to have walls. On the shore of Malr Dualdon lie Bremen, Targos, Termalaine and Lonelywood (behind a forest of same name). By Lac Dinneshere lie Caer-Konig, Caer-Dineval and one of the newest, Easthaven. By Redwater lie Good Mead and Dougan's Hole. The cities don't cooperate much, only get together to discuss of pressing matters, and are usually only cooperating under great threat. As always, there are treaties regarding Who Gets To Fish And Where, but the fishermen can never quite agree. The system works, sort of.
All in all, about 10000 "civilized" people live in the area. Icewind Dale is one of those places that welcome almost every kind of outcast and rogue in the realms - it just may be that what you've done doesn't matter, you'll end up frozen anyway in a few months. Most of the people in the area earn their living by fishing and hunting. There's also a sizable number of craftsmen, not surprising considering the availability of the knucklehead fish material.
For the adventurers, there's always opportunities to find Ice, some Ice, and some H2O In Solid Form. There are rumors of treasure and high adventure, but all there really is here is some Snow, Snow and quite a few Flakes. Some say there's White Dragons here, and yes, that's true, but methinks remorhaz are far more common... and the long, dark, dark, DARK winter is going to blow your mind, folks. Ah the nights that continue for half of the year! But ah, the beauty of the northern lights!...
Kind of like home.
Most of the material here cames from R.A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale Trilogy and Dark Elf Trilogy (the last book), and also from Volo's Guide to the North and the FRCS book.
Ed Greenwood, Skip Williams, Sean K. Reynolds and Rob Heinsoo.
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, 6/2001. Wizards of the Coast,
Third edition, 6/2001. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
Ed Greenwood. Volo's Guide to the North, 1993. TSR, Inc., 1993.