So after learning a lot about TileStache in last several days I found this tidbit sitting in the Config.py file:
Although a configuration file can be parsed from a remote URL, some
paths (e.g. the location of a disk cache) must be local to the server.
In cases where we mix a remote configuration location with a local
cache location, e.g. "http://example.com/tilestache.cfg", the disk path
must include the "file://" prefix instead of an ambiguous absolute
path such as "/tmp/tilestache".
Interesting, so it appears that yes, one can very well use a tilestach.cfg file sitting in S3 (or anywhere else that is web accessible) BUT you must include the file:// prefix in the cache: settings in the tilestache.cfg file.
So the following will not work:
While the following did work for me:
Also I learned the mod_python is dead, which is a shame as it was awesome when it came to re-reading the tilestach.cfg file every time the http://webserver/tile/tile.py/layer/z/x.png urls are requested. This was fantastic for our clients ever changing maps. But with TileStache running via a WSGI and mod_wsgi all it takes is to run a 'touch' command on the .wsgi file to force Tilestache to re-read its tilestach.cfg.
Now if I can only figure out how to get this tile server to run inside an aws auto scaling group I might be able to meet our clients' demands . . .