He graduated from the Heflungkiang Military Officers' School.
Tze-sln Tan served successively as battalion and regimental commander in the Northeastern Army under Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang before 1930. Then he was appointed as a brigade commander by Gen. Ma Chan-shan in 1931.He was promoted vice-Commander of the 5th Army corps in 1932.
In 1933 Mr. Tan joined Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang in fighting the Japanese. Later he was appointed as the commander of the 10th Cavalry Division by the Central Government, stationed at Kaifeng.