"Tick" is an onomatopoetic (拟声词) word that describes the sound of machinery (especially machines with gears, like old clocks).
So " . . . making it tick" means the "resourcefulness and expertise" that makes language function.
We often use the expression in a question, when we are asking how something works, or (in the case of human psychology) how the mind works. For example, if there is a person who I don't understand - whose personality is complicated - I might ask "what makes him tick?"