Once Nick Chopper was loved by Rebecca Eastwitch. Unfortunately for both of them Nick didn’t love her. Instead he loved Rebecca’s slave, Amy Nimy (or Nimee Aimee, accounts vary). As often happens in love triangles where one participant is an evil witch multilation, torment and death were the result. Amy was sent off to die in rebellion against Pastoria. An enchanted axe chopped off Nick’s limbs, one by one. He had each limb replace by a tin substitute. This went on until he’d lost every bit of himself that was meat and he was but a tin shell of the human he’d been.
Deeply depressed Nick didn’t pay attention to maintaining his new tin self and, after being caught in a storm, found himself rusted in place. There he stood for nearly a year until young Dorothy and the Scarecrow found him and restored him with oil. He joined them on their journey to the Emerald City and beyond; adventures that, among other things lead to him becoming Emperor of the Winkies, a position he holds to this day.