Tiling on wood

I am tiling my new fireplace, and at one end had to bolt a 2x4 to make the thing symmetrical. The rest of the surface is clay brick covered with concrete patching to give an even surface, and I intend to tile directly on top of that. My question is, can I tile straight onto the 2x4, or do I need to add a backerboard of some kind. I know the easier answer is to say add it, but is it really necessary?
BTW, the wood is nowhere near the heat source - it's about 3' from the side of the fireplace opening.
TIA
Mat
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I'd be more comfortable tiling on backerboard but you will probably get away with it since the maximum wood surface is 3.5" in width. The problem is that as moisture changes seasonally the wood will expand and contract. Backerboard is more stable.
RB
Mat and Suzy wrote:

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Mat and Suzy wrote:

If it's only 1.5" wide, I doubt you'll see much shrinkage, esp. if you used dried lumber. If not, first give it a chance to dry.
pb
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