- "I predict that one day, a female will enter the Tower of Commerce, climb the forty flights of stairs to the Chamber of Opportunity, and take her rightful place as Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance."
Ishka, daughter of Adred (nicknamed Moogie) was the mother of Quark and Rom, and became the wife of Grand Nagus Zek. She played a crucial role in initiating the reforms which took place in Ferengi society in 2375.
Ishka was married to Keldar, a good man who didn't have the mind for business that was needed in Ferengi society. Ishka attempted to help her husband in financial matters, but he refused to listen to her because she was a female. When Quark and Rom were children, Ishka taught them to memorize their first copies of the Rules of Acquisition.
Following Keldar's death, Ishka began conducting secret business transactions in violation of Ferengi law, since as a female, she was forbidden to acquire profit in Ferengi society. Amassing a large fortune, Ishka was eventually discovered by the Ferengi Commerce Authority. Her son Quark was forced to travel to Ferenginar to handle the matter. Quark discovered that Ishka had earned far more profit than he expected, and that it would be impossible for him to make restitutions for her.
After much strife between mother and son, Quark finally convinced his Moogie to make a full confession so that she could avoid being sold into indentured servitude and his business would be saved. Ishka returned the money she made to the FCA, though only she and her other son Rom knew that she had only given one-third of the profits back. (DS9: "Family Business")
Ishka competed in the Global Tongo Championship, female division, in 2373. She began passing tips to Grand Nagus Zek during his games, helping him win the competition. The two began corresponding afterwards with Ishka at first concealing her identity as a female. When she eventually revealed herself to Zek, he was furious until he realized that they were in love. Later, as Zek's mind began to fail, Ishka realized that his deterioration would cause the deterioration of the Ferengi economy. She began discreetly giving him assistance in financial matters, keeping the Ferengi business world going from behind the scenes.
Eventually, FCA Liquidator Brunt discovered their relationship and plotted for Quark to break them up, in exchange for restoring his Ferengi business license. Brunt hoped that without Ishka, Zek would be deposed as Nagus, and then he could take Zek's place. After Quark discovered the state of Zek's mind, he reunited the two lovers. (DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs")
During the Dominion War, Ishka traveled to Vulcan to get her ears raised. During the trip her transport was captured by the Dominion. Grand Nagus Zek commanded Quark to rescue her. Quark arranged a prisoner exchange on station Empok Nor, trading the Vorta Keevan for Ishka. (DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi")
Under Ishka's influence, Zek began reforming Ferengi society in 2374. After an amendment to the Ferengi Bill of Opportunities caused Zek to be deposed, Ishka attempted to arrange his comeback. She set up a meeting with an important FCA commissioner on Deep Space 9. During a fight with Quark, she had a heart attack and was unable to attend the meeting. Quark posed as Zek's "other female financial adviser" and convinced commissioner Nilva to vote for Zek's reinstatement. Ishka recovered after receiving a new heart. (DS9: "Profit and Lace")
After influencing Zek to pass even more extreme reforms on Ferenginar, Ishka and the Nagus retired to Risa in 2375. They stopped at Deep Space 9 to instate Rom as the new Grand Nagus. (DS9: "The Dogs of War")
Ishka was never a typical Ferengi female. She defied almost every tenet of Ferengi philosophy and law regarding women; she wore clothes, spoke to strangers, and refused to chew her children's food (Although she sometimes offered to "pre-chew" Quark's food as a gesture of compassion.) (DS9: "Family Business") Later in life she made profit, left the Ferengi homeworld, and helped bring about the reformation of Ferengi society. Ultimately, she influenced Zek to choose her son Rom as his successor, ensuring that her reforms would live on in the future. (DS9: "The Dogs of War") It was Ishka's hope that one day a Ferengi female would take her "rightful place" as Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance. (DS9: "Profit and Lace")
When it came to interacting with other people, Ishka was quite amicable and offered sound financial advice. Even while she was held prisoner by the Dominion, she had friendly conversations with the Vorta Yelgrun, informing him about such things as the importance of a diversified portfolio. However, she was also willing to stand up for herself and wasn't willing to put up with nonsense. (DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi")
Ishka loved her husband, who she felt was a good man, but he was unsuccessful in his commercial ventures, and while Rom inherited Keldar's heart, Quark inherited Ishka's lobes.
Rom and Ishka were very close when he was a child, and they remained close when Rom moved away from Ferenginar; however, Ishka and Quark quarreled constantly. He did not approve of her lifestyle and resented her for earning more profit than him. Additionally, Quark believed that the reason his father, Keldar, had been such a failure was because of Ishka's unorthodox ways, oblivious to her true financial genius. Nonetheless, Ishka always loved Quark, and she was still his "Moogie." (DS9: "Family Business")
The romance between Ishka and Zek blossomed because she was willing to open his eyes to life beyond profit. When Zek was deposed temporarily, Quark became furious with Ishka, as he believed that she had been using Zek to advance her feminist agenda all along. She had been instrumental in the emancipation of females, but she maintained that Zek had made the decisions. Regardless of Ishka's motives, Quark accused her of being the worst thing that ever happened to the Ferengi Alliance. As Ishka pointed out, Zek was lonely and miserable prior to becoming involved with her. In addition to enlightening Zek's mind, Ishka was responsible for helping the Nagus' failing memory run the Alliance until their retirement to Risa together. (DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs", "The Dogs of War")
- Ishka was played by comedienne Andrea Martin for her first appearance in "Family Business" and by Cecily Adams in all subsequent appearances. Both Martin and Adams were heavily made up to appear as older women. In actuality, Martin is only about three years older than Armin Shimerman, the actor portraying Quark, while Adams was in fact over nine years younger than Shimerman.
- In an interview, Andrea Martin stated that while she had a fantastic time playing Ishka and working with the DS9 cast and crew, she ultimately declined to return because she found the prosthetic makeup to be too uncomfortable for her.
- For her first appearance in "Family Business", Ishka's head-piece was based on that worn by Wallace Shawn as Zek, and was designed to look almost caricature-like, with drooping lobes and large jowls. For the scene when her knees are seen, makeup supervisor Michael Westmore even designed drooping kneecaps. For the shot where her shoulders and the top of her chest were exposed, Westmore didn't have time to create a proper foam-latex appliance, so he rubberized Kleenex, and wrinkled it, laying it across Martin's shoulders and on the upper portion of her chest. According to Westmore, Martin was not amused by the makeup. (Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Three, DS9 Season 3 DVD, Special Features)
- Ishka's age was never revealed, but in "The Magnificent Ferengi" she said her lobes hadn't been this firm "in over a century".