If the Narrator wants the Tongue to escape, the fact that the Snail is thrown to the players is merely a "dramatic excuse" to let him flee. So I could resolve it as Combat ability vs Combat ability, but anyway the players can't reach the higher goal of catching the Tongue.
If the Narrator wants to have the Tongue risking capture by the Heroes, than he should use the combat-with-the-snail-duration ability as the resistance against which the players bid. And I also think that he should tell them he is doing so. I don't think it is correct to reward them for something they don't declare to aim at, so if they don't know the Tongue is fleeing and so can't declare to be trying to stop him, the fact that he is taken or not is a decision from the narrator not an outcome/reward of the contest.
But its more a matter of styles-of-play rather than a matter of accurate usage of the rules, IMO.
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