It all began only a few decades after the Krytan Civil War, in the dark docks of old Lion's Arch, there ran gangs. Each was backed by the Aekart Family as a means to keep an eye on their rival companies. Sometimes these gangs would sabotage shipments or even kill sea captains to hold up the cargo ships' day of sail. Whenever the Lionguard came to investigate, their hopes in breaking the gangs fell apart. The gang members communicated using a broken mixture of Krytan and Ascalonian.
After the fall of the Era of Bosses, and return to the new Lion's Arch after the city's re-founding, after years of evolving north in Divinity's Reach, the Cant had taken on Elonan and even Canthan terms. Within a few years of the Cartel accepting more non-humans into its fold, the Cant began to evolve even further. Norn, Asuran and even Charr terms began to rapidly evolve the language to the point where few of the original speakers who might have remained would barely comprehend it.
In the Dragon-Haunted Times of the modern era, the Cipher Tongue of the Cartel is simple, and yet diverse in some areas. Overall it is a mesh of terms from all the cultures and individuals who have spoken it over the past century. Many in the Cartel learn it during the early stages of their time as initiates or as Cartelites. Many of the information in the Cartel is taught in rhymes, or simple sayings passed down over the years. The usage of Ashic (as it has come to be called) is generally reserved for conversation between Cartelites, especially when they discuss issues in public. Ashic is generally composed of not only terms, but specific phrasing that often implies a different meaning than what it might seem.
The terms, and even the dialect of Ashic, differs depending upon which sect the user is from. Sects often employ their own vernacular, including words and terms specific to that sect.