What is the reading from this brief line from Final Fantasy 5?
Is the kanji read ta? That would make it たてっ, or is the kanji read tachi? How would I know to drop the ち if I was writing this?
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In this case it's "ta". This goes to the fundamental difficulty of kanji -- it takes a lot of practice, memorization and experience to know how to read them.
There are two aspects to reading kanji. One is how particular verb, adjective etc. takes different forms based on hiragana after the kanji. So in this case (She) stands --> 立ちます Stand (up)! --> 立て (She) is standing --> 立っています The form of the verb dictates the hiragana following the kanji, which is just read "ta" in all above cases. To a large degree, this can be reduced to knowing how a verb that ends in a particular hiragana, "tsu" for example in this case, behaves. Those rules can be found in a first year textbook.
The second part of the question is knowing how many of a word's hiragana are represented by the kanji or not. So for the word "short", is it 短い or 短かい (it's the first one). This is a trickier issue because these are case by case. You can often make a good guess, but there are no rules you can always apply and be sure to be correct.
Questions like this form a significant part of kanji tests in Japanese schools, and there's a lot of memorization involved.