Small Ball Archmage
if i was specifically told to deduce his level from it? yes, especially if that was the case while his life and the life of his friends was in danger.So if Elminster was in a book and all you saw him do was cast several fireballs, toss a few lightning bolts, etc., he'd be low level as well?
Imma nip this in the bud though, we're discussing the feel of his level in the story, you aren't simulating the hobbit if you use Gandalf's power level in those other texts to inform his capability, since he doesn't use those capabilities in the hobbit. We Tolkien-heads might have reason to think he's LARPing as a low level character for whatever reason, but either way, that's what he performs like in the context of the story. The book even tells us that he's about to die, so there's no indication in the story that he has the option of ripping out some demigodic cosmic power.
Its probably an artifact of the context of when the Hobbit, LOTR, and the Silmarillion were each written since his lore is actually established later with earlier renditions of the story suggesting there are more wizards, or he's been depowered in-universe by that point for whatever reason, maybe related to the same reason he's sent back with more power after his death in LOTR