Zan attended the University of Wilno from 1820-1823, where he befriended Adam Mickiewicz, who would later become Poland's best-known poet. As Zan was two years older, he served as a mentor and friend to Mickiewicz.
In 1817 he was a cofounder of the Philomatic Association (Towarzystwo Filomatów), in 1820, Radiant Association (Towarzystwo Promienistych), in 1820-1823 president of Filaret Association (Zgromadzenie Filaretów), all of them student organizations in Vilna dedicated to Polish cultural and political activities. For his activity in those organizations he was exiled by the Russian authorities to Siberia (from 1824 to 1837), during which time he assisted Alexander von Humboldt on his 1829 research expedition.
His poetry is mostly satirical, most known is the heroicomic 'Zgon tabakiery'.
- Soboleski, Paul (1883). Poets and Poetry of Poland: A Collection of Polish Verse. Chicago: Knight & Leonard. p. 324.
- Davies, Norman (2005). God's Playground: A History of Poland. II. Oxford University Press. p. 230. ISBN 0199253404.
- "Zan Tomasz". Encyklopedia WIEM (in Polish). Grupa Onet.pl SA. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
- Michałowska Walkiewicz, Ewa (11 May 2010). "Tomasz Zan - Poeta i znawca minerałów". Polish American Pages (in Polish). Polish Pages, Inc. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
- Wikisource author page (in Polish)
- Z filareckiego świata:zbiór wspomnień z lat 1816-1824 by Henryk Mościcki http://kpbc.umk.pl/dlibra/doccontent?id=27328&dirids=1
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