Ok, here's the list:
Probably all related. Going to put some decent gas in there and run it a bit. The gas in the tank is at least two months old. Seems to be running smoother now, and the tapping is all but gone. Definitely needed time to get oil pressure into those lifters.
Still gotta figure out why I'm not getting the fan to blow. That FSU, like I said, was put in August of 2010. I can feel heat through the vents, so there is coolant in the core.