Penlod is attributed two houses, because while he has always been the head of the House of the Pillar, he is officially the regent of the House of the Tower of Snow.
Penlod’s sister Celethêl was married to Lossmînion, Lord of the House of the Tower of Snow – he fell in the Nirnaeth. They had no children, and he had no brothers. The people of the house were happy to be ruled by Celethêl, who had a hand in ruling them anyway while her husband was alive – she had a better head for administration than him, although he was very charismatic.
As for Penlod, he has sense enough to see that his role is purely nominal. At first, when he disagreed with Celethêl, he tried to issue a couple of orders over her head. They were ignored. Rather than bringing down sanctions and drawing attention to the fact he was incapable of actually ruling this house, he quietly backed down – a strategy he’d learned from childhood was best. He shows up to council meetings sometimes with whole speeches that Celethêl has written out for him to deliver. The other lords pretend not to notice (except Rog, who tells Penlod to pass his compliments onto his sister for another superb piece of writing).
Celethêl is quite angry that she can’t be publically named head of her house, and attend council meetings, but she rules efficiently, and is quite good friends with Idril. She doesn’t like taking advice, although she will listen to Ecthelion, mostly because in the past he’s come to her and directly asked for advice on some administrative matters. She respects honesty and people who admit their weaknesses – possibly because they’re both things she struggles with.
She has an uneasy relationship with Penlod – he doesn’t particularly enjoy having to back down to her (although she’s far more determined and ruthless, so he knows he doesn’t have a choice) while at the same time, respects that she is better at this than he is. She doesn’t enjoy the feeling that he could try and override her at any time, while also missing the relationship she used to have with her little brother when they were younger.
and now Penlod is being described as the “tallest of Gnomes”! Is there anything else that supports that idea? I mean obviously Thingol’s the tallest, but should Penlod rank up there? Turgon’s pretty damn tall too…