It wasn’t a story of competition for a long time, yes, until the end of the ice age and human hunting drastically reduced the amount of available prey for the dire wolf. Once a lot of the megafauna had died out, the dire wolves would have had to start chasing smaller prey.
And I think there’s an important bit you missed out on there:
So not only did wolves exist at the same time as these ancient beasts, they also vastly outlasted them, living into modern times and evolving to live beside human beings as guard dogs… Sounds just like Tusk, right?
I think the wolf is a much more fitting creature to associate with Tusk than a mammoth. The mammoths are all dead, after all, while the wolves have lived on.
Mammoths may have been big and powerful, even compared to their modern cousins I’m some species, but they’re all universally gone. The wolf lived alongside them, and even though different species have died off there have still been a few who remained very successful (at least until human persecution). This mirrors Tusk’s story, having outlived every culture he partook in and living in relative peace until Ultratech began meddling with him and other astral shenanigans.
Grey wolves are adaptable and clever besides being powerful. They could thrive in environments that their ice age contemporaries failed to adapt to, from the frozen north to the Sonoran Desert. They’ve helped shape the course of human history both as predators and eventually as domesticated animals.
Tusk has traveled the world and taken part in all sorts of cultures, serving as a protector of his many peoples and as a living nightmare for those that would do battle with him. From the grandest empire to the most humble village, he’s outlasted them all.
I don’t think Tusk would agree that his spirit would change because he’s “Big and Old”. I think he could relate far more to “Every other creature I’ve live beside is gone, but still I remain”.
Otherwise, there’s a lot of stuff in your post that was quite interesting I hadn’t thought about, like the age of Vikings and the Aztec macuahuitl. Very informative and thought provoking.
I’ll also say that the mammoth design used in the OP looks good. I’m just not sure that it encapsulates Tusk’s character apart from his name and stature. There’s more too him then how looks, after all.