I originally learned php before finding perl. I had a need to create a database driven website and everywhere I turned everything screamed php, there was barely a mention of perl.
Now as a young programmer just out of university which language was I going to choose, the obscure language that nobody talks about or the one everyone shouts about.
That was many years ago and I of course realise now how much of a mistake I made. I have to wonder how many people make this same decision every year.
Before anyone says that I found my way to perl anyway so there is no need to promote perl, the only reason I did was that I grabbed the first low paid tech support job I could and that company happened to use perl. As the number of perl programmers goes down the amount of companies using it goes down which will reduce the number of people learning perl in this way and the cycle continues.
I don't believe perl will die if we do nothing, however I do think there is a risk of going the way of cobol.
I think one of the problems facing the people who are trying to wake the community is that they are talking to people who a focused on programming whereas what are needed are people willing to do marketing and promotion. These are things not everyone is interested in or good at and I think probably slightly off topic for any of the main perl sites.
My thought is perl needs a new site/group dedicated solely to promoting perl to new programmers and users of other languages. A place where marketing and popularity issues can be dealt with without annoying people who have no interest in these dirty subjects. A place where how to improve TIOBE position can be discussed without it descending into the same arguments we have all heard time and time again about its irrelevance. We all know its a meaningless statistic but a lot of people do not and I think we have to accept that.
If we can get all people interested in this side of perl promotion working together on a single goal then perhaps we can achieve something. To stretch your dragons metaphor, the trick is not waking the dragons, it is finding the right group of dwarves and a key
This is just my little story of how I started with the wrong language and my opinions on perceptions of perl. Sorry to ramble on.