If everything else checks out, it sounds a lot like Piston Slap. Audible piston slap is typically loudest when the engine is first started up. The pistons then expand with heat reducing the piston to cylinder bore clearance thus, reducing the perpendicular impact of the piston against the cylinder wall and its resulting noise. Piston slap is common with 5.4 engines until 2004 (5.4 was redesigned). As long as there's no metal (or your piston rods) in the oil pan, there's not much that can be done. I live in Northern Ontario, and my truck (2002 Super Crew, 148,000 kms) and I have had it for the last 3 years with no issues. Now that it is getting cold, the noise is coming back. Then goes away once the engine warms up.
I know the ticking your speaking of. Heard it for a while but couldn't quite figure it out. It's the sound of a plug about to blow. Had it happen twice on my Triton. It was when it happened the second time that I realized that that tick/psst sound was air seeping from the around the spark plug (#4) in the back before it blows out. Hope this helps.
Having the same problem. The sound used to come from the passenger side of the engine and tick when first started. Once warming started the tick would just abruptly stop. Now there is a tick that gets louder when you accelerate and drops off when you let off the gas but is still audible. Could it be an exhaust leak, it seems to have a metallic sound. The plugs were all changed 2 years ago and never-seize was used on the threads and torqued properly. There was no looseness in the threads either. 197,600 miles.