Character Development: Thom
Following the episode with the killer cards, Mat seeks out Thom to discuss plans for leaving. Their discussion reveals a tremendous amount of loyalty that Thom shows for the Emond's Fielders.
Why had he not left Tear himself long since? Much the wisest thing to. Hundreds of villages lay lout there, waiting for a gleeman to entertain and amaze them. And each with an inn or two full of wine to drown memories. But if he did, Rand would have no one except Moiraine to keep the High Lords from maneuvering him into corners, and maybe cutting his throat. She could do it, of course. Using different methods than his. He thought she could. She was Cairhienin, which meant she had probably taken in the Game of Houses with her mother's milk. And she would tie another string to Rand for the White Tower while she was about it. Mesh him in an Aes Sedai net so strong he would never escape.
Thom, The Shadow Rising, p. 77
If he was caught, too, Thom decided, it would be worth it to help one man, at least, keep free of Aes Sedai. Worth it, to make a payment on that fifteen-year-old debt.
Thom, The Shadow Rising, p. 79
Thom is wracked by guilt from what happened to his nephew fifteen years ago. While Thom seems to prefer to assist Rand, because of his ability to channel, Thom is just as eager to help the other two escape from the grasp of the White Tower, as he sees it. From being a random visitor to Emond's Field fleeing Trollocs on Winternight, Thom finds his care for the boys far exceeding any amount of wine that he could drown himself in. I don't think it's just Thom's guilt driving him, he puts in too much effort in his tactics within the Game of Houses. He genuinely cares for the three boys, despite what he may tell himself.