Stannis's propostion to Renly was ridiculous
Early warning - Stannis's fans will not like this.
Every one remembers the infamous parley at the Storm's End. However I doubt that every one has the same opinion on the conversation between the two brothers.
From what I gathered, many people believe that the terms which Stannis gave to Renly were very generous and Renly - being the spoilt kid he was, was to dumb to accept them.
I would like to ask those people one question - What are you guys smoking!!?
In what world was this a generous proposition???
This proposition is similar to those made by most greedy fishmongers and shows that Stannis's awareness of the politics is even below that of Robb Stark.
I shall explain my reasoning but before this I would like to give some more information for context.
The strenghts of both parties
Let's start with Renly.
This guy had probably the biggest chance of winning the throne.
He was Lord Paramount of Strom Lands. He had the loyalty of most of his marcher lords, which had significant military power and was quite popular with the rest of his lords.
He was also married to Margaery Tyrell - daughter of Mace Tyrell Lotr Paramount of the Reach. With house Tyrell, Renly gained the loyalty of House Taryl, Rowan, Oakheart, Hightower, Fossoway and many more. House Redwyne was off limits because both sons of Paxter Redwyne - lord of Arbor - were hostages to Lannisters, but it was only the matter of time before Renly got the twins back.
So in conclusion, Renly had the biggest army, alliance which was more powerful than the STAB alliance (Stark - Tully - Arryn - Baratheon) and he would soon gain a great fleet. He had also the backing of some of the richest lords in the realm.
Now let's talk about Stannis.
His situation is rather unique. Except for the royal fleet he doesn't have much. And funnily enough it's all Robert's and Jon Arryn's fault. They gave him the Dragonstone and they made him marry Selyse Florent.
Dragonstone is prestigious location but I think I don't have to say that prestige is asoiaf usually translates to useless. His marriage while in theory beneficial is also useless.
Florents are respected and have prestige but that's it. Many people like to repeat the books and wiki and say that Florents had the rights to Highgarden but the same can be said about Oakhearts, Redwynes and even Rowans. Stannis was married to them to make sure that Tyrells stay in line. However this marriage also guaranteed that Stannis will not have any funny ideas about usurping Robert.
Stannis is a skilled commander, thought I would call him a genius. His current situation in the books and his screw up at Blackwater bay proves my point.
To those who really want to argue with me, I would like to point out that the only people who are afraid of Stannis are Lannisters or to be more exact Tyrion and Cersei. That's because Kings Landing had no armies and poeple were starving and rioting. The capital would not would not resist a siege At the beginning of the books it was clear that Stannis had a chance of taking the city. Sure, it would be a pyrrhic victory and he wouldn't be able to hold the capital, but still he was still a very real danger. To Lannisters that is. Robb, Renly and even Greyjoys were stronger than Stannis and didn't have to worry about him.
So Stannis's situation was pretty much hopeless. The fact that Jon Arryn was planning on sending his son to "foster" to Stannis proves this. Jon knew that Stannis had zero to no power and he knew that he wouldn't live to see this war so he decided to give Stannis sweetrobin which guarantees him support of the Vale. Sadly that didn't work out.
So to sum this whole paragraph up, Stannis had little power while Renly had almost evrything. So if Stannis wanted to have any chance in this war he had to deal with his brother. Bearing this in mind let us go to another topic.
The "generous" propostion
So what did Stannis propose to Renly? He promised to name him his heir until his son is born and make him his hand.
That's it. If Stannis has a male heir, Renly will lose his position as the future king. And The Mannis expects Renly to just bend the knee. He even threatens him!
I will stop any comments that Stannis could win a battle with Renly under Strom's End. I can already see people writing entire essays on some hidden traps, logs, crows feet, wolf pits and other. Many of you expect that twenty thousand knights will simply charge at Stannis and will be destroyed proving once again the equality between the nobles and small folk and enacting a second Agincourt yada yada.
Firstly, Renly probably woundn't have chraged at the head of the army. He didn't have to, he had nothing to prove to his vassals. So he would command from the rear with lords who are experianced in warfare. Stannis is a great commander, but his reputation is overhyped in my opinion. He held Stroms End true but most of his fame comes from naval battles or from amphibious assults. He is a good commander but he isn't a genius. So I dare to say that commanders such as Randyl Tarly will be able to mach him in tactics.
With that out of the way let's return to this propostion. Stannis simply expects his borther to hand over everything with little in return. I will give this to Stannis, he is the eldest. The law is on his side, as many of his fans point out. However, I would like to point out that the entire world of asoiaf shows how little lords of Westeros actually care about the law. Bah! Robert's Rebellion shows this perfectly! The king was killed by his own kingsguard, the heir to the throne was killed by traitors in battle, and Targeryen princesess and future queen were murdered. And yet, the realms accepted Robert Baratehon as their rightful king.
Because the law can be influenced by the strongest. In the modern times this is harder but not impossible, more subtle means are used such as bribery or lobbying.
Stannis refuses to understand that his right means nothing, unless he has some strenght to bakc his claim and he doesn't have this power.
He goes to Renly, dictating terms as if he was already a king, while also threating his brother with his five thousand army. Meanwhile Renly smiles at him while being clad in a beautiful green armor, with fabulously armed knights, his twenty thousand army stands by behind him.
It's like mouse screaming at the amused lion.
Renly could bring him entire army of the south. The handship wasn't a gift for Renly, it was guaranteed to him. Who else would Stannis give the position for? Alester Florent? Davos Seaworth??
Besides Renly married Margaery and their family fully expected that their Rose of Highgarden will be the queen of seven kingdoms. They would never allow Renly to accept this deal and they had power to force their will on him
Despite all of this, Stannis could still win this in my opinion. As mentioned earlier he had one thing Renly didn't have. Legitimacy, which while ingored by most lords, was still quite valuable. He could use it to his advantage.
Though not in way he would hope.
Okay so what should have Stannis given Renly to get him on his side?
Handship goes to Renly without saying.
Titles and officed for the Tyrells - teeth grinding expected.
Rainbow Guard stays with Renly - I doubt that Stannis would even want them in the first place.
Renly becomes the facto co-ruler with Stannis
Stannis cedes the rights to Storm's End.
He allows small council to be filled with Renly's chosen men.
Proclamation that Tyrells are rightfull Lord of the Reach
Is this too much? Would Stannis be giving Renly waaaaaaaay to much power?
But he didn't have a choice.
The reality was that he was in a similar situation to Joffrey who gave all power to Tywin. Tywin had all the walth and the army so the Joffrey depended on his grandfather to stay on the throne.
Stannis had very little so he would have to give Renly a lot of his royal power to gain his support. And the worst part? The boons mentioned earlier are nothing. There is only one thing Stannis that could interest Renly.
Renly would become Stannis's heir.
How is it different from the original? Well simply. Renly would inherit the throne even if Stannis had a son. This is the only way Renly would support Stannis.
Some of you may argue that there would be no point to being a king if Stannis gave so much power to Renly, but I would answear that this is how game of thrones works. You don't always win everything.
Stannis could also accept Renly's offer which was actually generous. And I mean it without quotation marks. Renly didin't have to give his brother anything really. He was so powerful that the only danger to his power was Robb Stark. And yet he offered the castle to Stannis. Was it love, pity or some other intrigue I don't know, but his propostion was the one that was generous.