Tyber Zann was born and raised on Anaxes and, despite being born into prosperity, soon began a criminal career. He was enrolled into the Imperial Academy on Carida by his father as punishment, but soon was expelled for his continuing criminal activities. Those same activities soon led him into partnership with a hulking Talortai named Urai Fen and allowed Zann to construct a criminal empire rivaled only by the Hutts. Zann grew increasingly ambitious and soon found himself mired into ever-greater schemes that would see him square off against the Empire, ally himself with the lethal Nightsister Silri, and ultimately overreach after a daring raid on Coruscant. The enmity he drew from the Rebel Alliance, Empire, other criminal groups, and eventually the Yanibar Guard would lead to the devastation of his fleet over Kuat and his death above Yanibar.
Zann's criminal empire spanned dozens of worlds and allowed him to amass both a significant war fleet as well as hundreds of mercenaries to fight for him. As his empire grew, so did Zann's ambition. Backed by his henchman Urai Fen, Zann led a small force onto Imperial-occupied Bespin to steal valuable Tibanna gas and framed rival crime lord Xizor of Black Sun in the crime, which led to Xizor's downfall at the hands of Darth Vader. While on Bespin, Zann found some of his forces attacking a business, Bexpress Shipping, which was being fiercely defended with the aid of destroyer droids similar to those used in his army. Recognizing an opportunity if the businessman was willing to sell him parts and possibly entire destroyer droids, Zann left a holocomm card that would allow communication with the crime lord for a short period of time.
The businessman was Jorgesoll Knrr, who was also an agent for the Yanibar Guard and had obtained the droidekas from them. He passed the card along and the Yanibar Guard contacted Zann, sending Spectre Kraen, the head of the Yanibar Guard Army, to meet Zann on Nar Shaddaa under an alias. Zann agreed to buy a substantial amount of droidekas and smaller pistoeka sabotage droids from Kraechar Arms after a tense negotiation session, then proceeded with his plans to enlarge his holdings. What Zann didn't know was that the Yanibar Guard also sent a commando team to Nar Shaddaa to sabotage the weapons he had purchased in order to weaken the nefarious crime lord. Zann's activities earned Imperial attention, who dispatched Admiral Delvardus with a small task force to harass him. However, Delvardus had too small of a fleet to menace both the Zann Consortium's holdings as well as patrol the spacelanes to stop Rebel Alliance aggression.
Zann had previously arranged to meet Xizor over Carida to sell a Sith artifact, but suspected a trap. His suspicions were proved correct, as Admiral Thrawn, accompanied by Delvardus's fleet, arrived. Thrawn had been the one to dismiss Zann from Imperial service and instructed Zann to turn over the artifact. Zann refused and brought in a sizable fleet of his own, accompanied by his newly-constructed flagship Merciless, that matched the Imperial force in strength. The two fleets battled until the bounty hunter Bossk, previously under Zann's employ, betrayed Zann and fled with the artifact to Thrawn's ship. Thrawn retreated shortly thereafter, while Delvardus fought on, but was unable to force a conclusive end to the battle as Zann eventually withdrew. Zann had actually allowed the artifact to be stolen because it had a tracking device in it that allowed him to infiltrate Coruscant and sneak into the Emperor's vaults along with Silri and Urai Fen. His next plan was to launch a daring assault to steal the mammoth Star Dreadnaught Eclipse from Kuat Drive Yards where it was under construction. His forces were able to steal the ship, but suffered heavy losses as the result of intelligence that brought both Rebel and Imperial forces to Kuat, turning it into a space brawl that cost all three sides heavily.
Zann eventually learned of the sabotage on Nar Shaddaa and earned a stroke of luck when his operatives were able to locate and detain Sarth and Cassi Kraen, the heads of Kraechar Arms, on Mandalore. Zann also had one of his operatives locate and transmit the point of origin for the saboteurs, the remote planet of Yanibar. The operative was successful, inculpating the Yanibar Guard in sabotage operations on Nar Shaddaa as well as the trap on Kuat and confirming that Sarth and Cassi were linked to them. Taking the remnant of his fleet to Yanibar, Zann also interrogated Sarth and Cassi personally, threatening to rape Cassi if Sarth did not divulge information about Yanibar's defenses. Sarth acquiesced and Zann attacked.
His fleet fought a short skirmish with the Yanibar Guard Fleet that quickly turned into a stalemate in orbit. Impatient and supplied with the location of the refuge on Yanibar, Zann launched a formidable army to land on Yanibar, but his forces were stymied and slowed in their advance. At that point, Silri arrived with a newly-gained army of her own and launched a second ground attack on Yanibar while her ships menaced the Yanibar Guard Fleet. Unbeknown to Zann, Sarth had managed to slip a message out and the freighter Hawk-bat, concealed by a Force technique, docked with Zann's flagship. Spectre Kraen and a team of commandos stormed aboard and split up, half to sabotage the ship and half to rescue Sarth and Cassi. Zann and Urai Fen found the intruders in the process of escaping and attacked them, but Fen was killed by Spectre even though Zann managed to injure one of the commandos. The crime lord was severely wounded in the engagement, but before dying, hurled a detonator at the escapees, lethally wounding Spectre and his son Nate Kraen. The others fled the Merciless and escaped.
Following his, Fen's, and Silri's deaths on Yanibar, along with the loss of the vast majority of his forces, the Zann Consortium quickly collapsed.
Behind the scenes
Tyber Zann was chosen as the primary antagonist for Force Exile IV: Guardian because author Atarumaster88 sought to find a lawless foil for the lawful Yanibar Guard that was aligned with neither the Galactic Empire nor the Rebel Alliance. The choice was part of several conflicts-within-conflicts that were created in the novel, as the struggle between Zann and the Yanibar Guard was a microcosm of the greater struggle happening in the galaxy at the same time. Thus, Zann was assigned numerous interactions with the Empire while the Yanibar Guard through Hasla had considerable interaction with the Rebel Alliance. Atarumaster88 did feel constrained by the need to narrate some of Zann's canonical actions and incorporating those scenes into the novel proved the least satisfying scenes, as it required less interaction between the Yanibar Guard and Zann in order to conform to canon, instead of the desired cat-and-mouse game between the Zannists and Yanibar. Atarumaster88 also found Zann to be a fairly flat antagonist in his canonical portrayal and felt that Urai Fen needed to play off of Zann in order to create a more interesting antagonist character.