The Gnomes in Warcraft start off with a bang, a literal one. Not a great be happy motivating bang, but a kick in the teeth genocide bang.
On the one hand, right out of the gate it shows gnomes as something more than just comic relief, which is great. On the other hand, it shows gnomes as incompetent.
The fact that after so much time Gnomes can’t reclaim their city or even just move on and build a new one speaks volumes about what they are able to accomplish, unfortunately it says, ‘not much’. There needs to be a triumphant victory to counter the low starting note. Show that gnomes can accomplish great things even when they come from one of the most tragic situations of any race on Azeroth.
Note: I think part of the perception comes from the fact that Gnomeregan is a low level dungeon. I realize this is just a game mechanic issue and not really a lore issue, but I think it does undermine the image of gnomes.