Born in 1815, Tanner came to Texas in 1827 with his family, likely settling in what is now Liberty County. In 1835, he was elected to the Committee of Safety for the municipality of Liberty, the first of many future city appointments. During the Revolution, he enlisted in the Texican army on March 6, 1836, and was assigned to Captain William M. Logan's Company of Liberty Volunteers, with whom he fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. Discharged that following June, he returned to Liberty and once again involved himself with local government and politics. On March 26, 1855, he was appointed the overseer for Precinct II, Liberty County, by the County Commissioners. In 1862, during the Civil War, he tried to enlist in the regular army, but was declared too old, and instead became attached to Wheat's Company A, Texas State Troops, a support unit. Tanner died some time in 1867 and buried in Boothe Cemetery in north Liberty County.