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"He is a strange creature."
― Elrond, The Council of Elrond
The origins and nature of Tom Bombadil are unknown; however, he already existed when the Dark Lord came to Arda, signifying he was alive even before the coming of the Valar.
His role and nature in the Elder Days is unknown, but he must have witnessed most of the major events and battles. He also witnessed the reducing of the great forests that covered all Middle-earth, and perhaps of his powers.
The level of his interactions with the outside world is also unclear; however, he seemed to have names among many peoples and perhaps became a folkloric figure in the traditions and legends of Elves, Dwarves and Men.
During the Third Age, Tom Bombadil lived in a little house by the river Withywindle in the Old Forest, together with his lovely wife Goldberry. He had contact with the Bucklanders and Farmer Maggot, and perhaps it was this to which he owed his jolly and whimsical attitude.
However, since he was merry and benevolent, some of the Free Peoples considered him a potential ally (for example, Elrond and Erestor considered that he should be present at the Council of Elrond). However, according to Gandalf, Tom Bombadil was perhaps not fully aware of the struggle of Light and Darkness and could not prove useful to their causes.
the very personification of the land
You did not mention Bombadil could fend off the army of Mordor and Sauron himself. Alone.
Was Tom created without any desire to dominate or did he develop it over time? I would think (and hope) that it was something he purged over time, which gives hope that others could evolve to be beyond the grasp of evil.
The Valar were the fourteen Ainur who, after being molded of Eru's thought, entered Arda after its creation, to give order to the world and combat the new evils of Melkor. They had helped to begin the shaping of Arda through the music of Ilúvatar, and often referred to one another as "brother" or "sister". Each of the Ainur had added his or her own part to the music creating the world incarnate, save for Melkor, who at the time was counted as the strongest of them. His vision of what Arda should have been differed from Eru's, which led to his banishment and great rebellion that would cause most of the ills of the world of Arda.
originally posted by: chelsdh
Gothmog made a response in another thread, saying "You did not mention Bombadil could fend off the army of Mordor and Sauron himself.
We must master cooperation.
a reply to: Tucket
At the council of Elrond its mentioned that if Sauron regained the ring, Tom would be the last to fall. Also, that the power to defy the enemy is not within him.
Tom though is probably the last living original genius loci of a place in Middle Earth