Doc is 6'3" tall but skinny as a rail, and has long white hair and (oddly) perfect teeth. Due to the strain of the time trawling, he was prematurely aged; while he is only about 34 years old physically, he appears to be twice that.
His appearance belies his physical abilities, though - he is quite strong and capable of holding his own in most situations. The double-time-trawl also played havoc with his mind; he is only semi-lucid at the best of times, falling into near insanity when placed under severely stress or injury. At these times, he tends to hallucinate, hold conversations with people long dead (especially his family), and/or drop into a semi-catatonic state.
He, out of all the group, bears the greatest animosity for the whitecoats and what they did, both to him and the rest of the world. Doc he wears the clothing he had on when he was originally trawled - a frock coat, breeches, and black leather knee boots that have seen better days.
He had a wife named Emily and two young children, Rachel and Jolyon. In November 1896, a portal opened in the street in front of him when he was on a walk with his family in Omaha, Nebraska. He was grabbed and taken through; his two children were killed by the energy of the portal, and Emily, deprived of her entire family in an instant (not to mention a horrific manner), she had a nervous breakdown and was committed to an asylum for a time. There is no further record of her life.
Doc Tanner was the only successful subject of Project Chronos, though others were time-trawled forward from the late 1990s into the future. He was brought forward to 1998 and spent two years in the company of modern scientists, learning a good deal about the Totality Concept and its sub-projects while the scientists studied him. All the while, though, he made a nuisance of himself and refused to work with them, constantly begging to be sent back. Finally, in December 2000, the scientists tired of him and sent him forward in time another hundred years, where he ended up in Redoubt Bravo.
Ryan and his friends found Doc in Mocsin, a "guest" of Baron Jordan Teague (Pilgrimage to Hell), and brought him along since it was apparent that he knew something of the redoubt. He has since proven himself to be a valuable companion and friend, though his mind tends to wander at times.
His weapons of choice are an ebony cane that hides a rapier of Toledo steel and a reproduction LeMat pistol, which fires nine .44 caliber bullets and a 20-gauge shotgun round, he had a Civil-War-era version that fired .36 slugs and a 16-gauge grapeshot round, but he lost it in Kansas and later found a replica that he used for several years (Cold Asylum); he upgraded to the newer version because bullets would be easier to come by.
- His favorite expression is "By the three Kennedies!" (which, incidentally, comes from a book he was reading shortly before his final journey through time, a biography about John, Robert, and Teddy Kennedy.)
- Doc Tanner was left out of the 2003 film Deathlands: Homeward Bound. His absence might be due to the fact that the muddle-headed Doc was a somewhat divisive character among fans, who tended to love him or hate him.