But with the revelations in Wrath, the gnomes have suddenly been confronted with their own origins and the realization that they were, indeed, created by a higher power. In Cataclysm, gnomes will finally have priests added to the available list of classes they can play. While there's been no information released as to why the gnomes are suddenly interested in the Light, or how they'll incorporate the Light's powers into their own unique blend of magic and technology, I've thrown around a few theories of my own.
In World of Warcraft, gnomes are allowed to be both mages and warlocks. The pursuit of these particular schools of magic is generally hand in hand with the zest for invention, and magic is looked at as something to be used to modify existing technology for the better. So there are a couple of possibilities that could be followed here -- perhaps with the revelation that the gnomes have that higher power that created them, suddenly they've regained a new interest in spirituality and wish to look a little more closely at the Light. Or, and this one is a bit of a stretch mind you, the gnomes observed what the blood elves managed to do with M'uru in Burning Crusade -- literally harness a being of Light and siphon the energy off of it -- and determined that perhaps they could do something similar without harming the creature involved in the process.
There are other theories out there, but until we receive an explanation, we'll never know for certain why the gnomes suddenly decided to follow the path of the Light, other than conjecture based on what little we know of the gnomish race. However, while gnomish presence in the world has been scattered all over, largely neutral and seemingly without focus, there is one thing above all else that the gnomes as a whole have been focused on, and it's something we'll see near Cataclysm: retaking their beloved capital city for good.
Sicco went mad that day. All that he'd devoted his life to had been taken away from him in a single moment via a vote that he had no control over, despite his best efforts to sway people to his side. He wanted revenge, and he worked just as carefully on obtaining it as he did on trying to become high tinker. Gaining the trust and favor among the intellectually elite, he managed to get himself into the position of Mekkatorque's advisor. When the troggs began their invasion of Gnomeregan during the Third War, it provided him the perfect opportunity to ruin Mekkatorque's reputation and gain the rank of high tinker in the process. In fact, while it's unverified, there are rumors that suggest that Sicco not only knew of the trogg invasion before it began, but that he engineered the whole thing himself in order to set Mekkatorque up for failure.
It was Sicco's idea to leave the Alliance in the dark during the Third War as far as the trogg invasion went, and the rest of the gnomes agreeably went along with the plan. After all, in the priority of things, a world invasion by a dark power that sought to consume Azeroth rated much higher on the list than troggs that were only invading a single city. It was also Sicco's idea to flood Gnomeregan with radiation. While Mekkatorque was against the idea as first, it seemed like the best option -- and if a few gnomes died in the process, Sicco argued, it would be a worth sacrifice for saving the entire race as a whole.
The story of Thermaplugg is an odd one in light of gnomish origins -- why would a creature descended from a robot crave power and global domination? Part of it can likely be attributed to the Curse of Flesh, which made all gnomes the creatures that they are today. Perhaps the madness and the craving for power is simply some sort of faulty programming that was passed down for generations until Sicco was born; perhaps Sicco heard the call of some sort of old god. Regardless, Thermaplugg betrayed his people in the worst possible fashion and gave the majority of them a death sentence, all in the name of a fancy title.
Sicco was naturally branded a traitor for his actions, and sentenced to death though that death has never been carried out. While many were sent into the city, upon their return and analysis of their claim it was discovered that the "Sicco" that was defeated was likely nothing more than a cleverly engineered fake of Thermaplugg, and the real Thermaplugg still dwelt somewhere within Gnomeregan's depths.
With the death of the Lich King and the Alliance's focus no longer solely dedicated to Northrend and the Frozen Throne, Mekkatorque has been able to finalize, at last, a planned assault on Gnormeregan in an attempt to reclaim the city and finally bring Thermaplugg to justice. No longer quiet or withdrawn, the gnomes are quite open about discussing this with the Alliance and asking them for their help, regardless of race. After all, the silence between the gnomes and the others in the Third War proved disastrous for the gnomish race as a whole. But what will happen after Gnomeregan is retaken? What role will the gnomes play in the Alliance?
There is no "oh wait" moment for the gnomes, because the answer is the same as always -- they'll continue to help their friends when needed and fight their foes when they have to. With the introduction of the Bilgewater Cartel of goblins to the Horde, there might be a few skirmishes here and there, but gnomes by and large aren't going to be a major player in any political battles. They've got far too many other interesting ideas and prospects to follow. With the retaking of Gnomeregan and the events in Cataclysm, we may see their priorities shift to helping their allies with the sheer amount of devastation Deathwing will surely create.
The largest role the gnomes will play in the Alliance is an ally -- a strong, intelligent ally that will step forward to help anyone they deem as friend. Given the current situation of the other Alliance races, they may be asked to step up sooner than they think -- but that's a story for another week.