Tolan Garak was a Cardassian male, the uncle of Elim Garak but throughout his life played the role of Elim's father. Tolan was the maintenance foreman in charge of the grounds, monuments and memorials of the Tarlak Sector of Cardassia City on Cardassia. He lived in the basement apartment of Enabran Tain's home with his sister Mila (who played the role of his wife) and Garak. He was responsible for the burial of many notable Cardassians, including the legendary Legate Turat Lokar.
Tolan had a particular passion and ability to grow Edosian orchids, with which he populated much of the Tarlak Sector, quite a feat in Cardassia's hot dry climate. People would come from distant lands to see them and often inquired into how Tolan achieved the amazing display; he shared his secrets with those who seemed passionate, but left the majority with an air of mysticism citing the unique properties of the Tarlak Sector, the properties induced only by his tender care.
Tolan was follower of the Hebitian religion – the Oralian Way, and encouraged Elim to follow the practices of the religion as well. On his deathbed, Tolan told Elim the truth of his parentage and gave Elim his Hebitian mask and a bag of Edosian orchid tubers.
The outbuilding in which Tolan kept his landscaping equipment later became the home of Elim Garak when he returned to Cardassia after the Dominion War, as Tain's home had been destroyed. (DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time)