Tick manipulation is a method in which players are able to use the RuneScape clock to their advantage in activities such as combat and skilling. The RuneScape game engine runs on a unit of time colloquially referred to "ticks", which each last 0.6 seconds (specifically 0.603 seconds due to server lag). By performing actions quickly enough within a tick, players can interrupt animations to optimise skilling and combat. Due to the click-intensive nature of tick manipulation, many players shy away from using these methods in favour of more conventional methods, but if a player optimises the amount of actions performed between each game tick, it's possible for them to achieve a much higher experience rate per hour or perform actions much quicker than what would normally be expected.
Prayer flicking: Once a prayer is active, it will drain at a constant rate; however it will only ever deplete one's prayer points on a game tick. If a player were to quickly deactivate a prayer before that game tick happens, they can keep the benefit of the prayer while not losing any prayer points. This is particularly useful with overhead protection prayers or offensive prayers.
Tick eating: Certain types of damage such as Ranged or Magic attacks are calculated prior to them being applied to a player’s health. So if a player heals before the damage is applied, they can survive attacks which would otherwise kill them. It's difficult for most players to use this effectively in combat, however, more skilled players can use this to do things that would otherwise require Prayer points or levels, such as the fight caves. Since an update, tick-eating is no longer possible in PvP situations.
Food combination: Food and potions can normally be consumed once every 3 ticks. However if a player were to chain these actions together, it's possible to eat a piece of food then drink a potion in the same game tick. Cooked karambwan are one of the more popular 'combo-foods' as there is no tick delay in how fast they can be eaten in combinations with other foods. For example, it's possible to eat an Anglerfish, drink a Saradomin brew, then eat a Karambwan, healing a player by 56 hitpoints in a single game tick. Pizzas also can be eaten instantly alongside other foods, and otherwise have a very limited tick delay for any other action.
When a skilling method is referred to as "2-tick" or "3-tick", that means it takes that many game ticks in order to complete the specified action.
In optimized skilling, it is common to use swamp tar and a low levelled herb (guam leaf to harralander) with a pestle and mortar in the inventory to start creating herb tar but never finishing the action, thus consuming no resources unless the player accidentally finishes it. Provided that there is only one clean herb of that type in the inventory (thus not giving a "Make-X" interface), this action starts a cycle of three ticks that can be combined with some skilling methods to make them faster. A herb sack is useful for storing more grimy herbs in case of mistakes. Using teak or mahogany logs with a knife (to start creating a crossbow stock), or kebbit claws with any vambraces are another method and require one less inventory space, but is less recommended for beginners who are prone to accidentally letting the animation finish.
Another common way of using tick manipulation, generally for 2-ticking, is having something or someone attacking the player. This can be two weak NPCs with 4-tick attack speeds (such as birds) attacking out of sync, or another player using darts on a PVP world. For the latter, using Saradomin brews or Justiciar armour is recommended to deal negligible damage. The player skilling should have Auto Retaliate turned on and a shortbow equipped with no ammo. Defensive and health regenerating jewelry, such as Ring of suffering (i) and Regen bracelet, are helpful to negate damage.
1-tick Cooking: Raw karambwan, while also being able to be eaten without a delay, can also be cooked without a delay. When a player attempts to cook a karambwan, they're able to open a new skilling dialog and click it on the same tick that the karambwan is cooked (or hold the corresponding key). This allows for a player to cook an entire inventory in as little as 16.8 seconds and achieve experience rates of up to 800k-900k per hour, with a stable ping, decent timing, and high enough click accuracy.
3-tick Mining: Whether it be mining the same rock continuously such as in the Motherlode Mine, or mining a rock adjacent to your character, mining is usually always a 3 tick action when using a rune or dragon pickaxe (exceptions include Rune essence mine, Volcanic Mine and gem rocks). However, when attempting to mine rocks which aren't adjacent to your character, it can take 5 ticks as the act of walking towards the next rock resets the initial mining action. Performing a separate 3 tick action such as creating Herb tar allows for a new rock to be mined within the 3 tick period, thus saving 2 ticks every time you need to move your character. The level of pickaxe correlates with the amount of ticks to mine a rock, for example an adamant pickaxe mines a rock every 4 ticks, therefore 3-ticking may also be used to mine at the speed of rune pickaxe with bronze to adamant.
2-tick Woodcutting: When woodcutting, it takes four ticks for a player to get a chance of receiving a log. However, if a player is being attacked exactly two ticks apart, due to the way Auto Retaliate works, it's possible to receive a log once every two ticks, effectively doubling the normal amount of experience per hour.
This is typically done on Ape Atoll while being attacked by birds. Simply having a bow equipped and set to Rapid and having Auto Retaliate on will ensure that every time you retaliate, you'll also have a chance of receiving a log. To make your character retaliate, you can click the ground, drop an item, make darts, or equip an item; all of these actions will cancel and reset the action of woodcutting.
3-tick Fishing: Fishing is normally a 5-tick action. Using a similar method to 3-tick mining, performing an action which takes three ticks will allow a player to receive a fish every three ticks rather than five ticks. This method is more commonly used while Barbarian fishing or Fly fishing, but can be useful for other fishing spots.
2-tick Fishing: Similar to 2-tick Woodcutting, the player can use Auto Retaliate to catch fish every two ticks despite it being five ticks by default. However, unlike Woodcutting, one does not have to interrupt the fishing, although they have to right-click on the fishing spot if they wish to harpoon.
Although this can be used to get the highest Fishing experience rates with harpooning tuna and swordfish, it is less efficient overall, as 3-ticking at Barbarian Fishing provides Strength and Agility experience making it generally more worthwhile, and 2-ticking does not work for Barbarian Fishing.
3-tick/1-tick Hunter: The default speed of laying a box trap is four ticks, which can be reduced to three with the use of tick manipulation. Furthermore, when correctly timed, it is possible to lay a trap instantly after picking up another; this is done by moving to the desired spot on the same tick as laying the previous trap, picking up the next, and clicking it up as soon as possible in the inventory.