2.2.1: Can Thom channel?
[Arthur Bernard Byrne, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler]
Here are the reasons why some people think Thom can channel: 1) The mysterious blue flash in Whitebridge/random burns after the Fade fight in TEOTW. 2) His comment that he "could have done something" for Owyn. 3) In [TFOH: 9, A Signal, 145] Nynaeve says "she could not channel any more than Thom". This is taken to be "ironic foreshadowing." 4) The White Ajah hypothesis that channeling has a genetic link, and that Thom has at least one relative who can channel (Owyn).
Objections: 1) The blue flash is something that occurs when Fadeblade meets OP-forged blade. This would imply that Thom's daggers were OP-made, which seems kind of strange (see section 2.3.4), but doesn't indicate anything about his ability to channel. As for the fires, it seems likely that there was some sort of riot after the fight, which is why people didn't want to talk about it. 2) The "something" comment is just wishful thinking. 3) If Thom was a channeler, he would have to have the "spark inborn," since until recently, nobody was teaching men to channel. Thus, he'd have started channeling at about 20, a la Rand. Even if he had a block, like Ny, he would have channeled quite a bit in the 30 or so years since then, more than enough for him to be showing signs of madness and the rotting disease.
As for number four, it's true that we have seen evidence that channeling is an inherited trait. Elayne is related to both Morgase (who can channel even if only a tiny bit) and Moiraine, through Taringail (Thom is not Elayne's father; see section 2.5.4). Adeleas and Vandene are sisters. In TPOD, we meet three Windfinders who are all related; Caire and Tebreille are sisters, and Talaan is Caire's daughter [TPOD: 5, The Breaking Storm, 120]. However, this makes Thom's chances of being a channeler only slightly better, since we can come up with ten times as many examples of non-channelers related to channelers. Galad, Luc, Tigraine, and Janduin are all related to Rand, and none of them can/could channel. Aviendha has a sister who cannot channel, while Mat has a sister (Bode) who can. Elayne's brother Gawyn cannot channel, Egwene's parents cannot channel, and so forth and so on.
In any case, nothing that we have seen of Thom's thoughts or actions gives any indication of him being able to channel.
From a signing in Seattle, Edward "potato" Liu tells us:
Now, regarding Thom, RJ said a man will not go mad or get sick if he never channeled. Thus, he agreed that a male channeler who could be taught to channel (as opposed to having the inborn ability) and has never channeled would not die from the taint. BUT, when I asked him if he ever intended to make people think that Thom could channel, he said no. I brought up the hereditary point (i.e. Owyn) but he said just because your parents have a particular gene doesn't mean you'll receive that particular gene. Also he made a point that Owyn was his nephew so therefore not necessarily very similar gene-wise. When I pressed him again on it, he said (I'm quoting) "There is no way in hell Thom can channel." All he offered for explanations is that Thom is a "mysterious man."