Source processes commonly posed to explain instances of remote dynamic triggering of tectonic (nonvolcanic) tremor by surface waves include frictional failure and various modes of fluid activation. The relative potential for Love‐ and Rayleigh‐wave dynamic stresses to trigger tectonic tremor through failure on critically stressed thrust and vertical strike‐slip faults under the Coulomb–Griffith failure criteria as a function of incidence angle are anticorrelated over the 15‐ to 30‐km‐depth range that hosts tectonic tremor. Love‐wave potential is high for strike‐parallel incidence on low‐angle reverse faults and null for strike‐normal incidence; the opposite holds for Rayleigh waves. Love‐wave potential is high for both strike‐parallel and strike‐normal incidence on vertical, strike‐slip faults and minimal for ∼45° incidence angles. The opposite holds for Rayleigh waves. This pattern is consistent with documented instances of tremor triggered by Love waves incident on the Cascadia megathrust and the San Andreas fault (SAF) in central California resulting from shear failure on weak faults (apparent friction is μ*≤0.2). Documented instances of tremor triggered by surface waves with strike‐parallel incidence along the Nankai megathrust beneath Shikoku, Japan, however, are associated primarily with Rayleigh waves. This is consistent with the tremor bursts resulting from mixed‐mode failure (crack opening and shear failure) facilitated by near‐lithostatic ambient pore pressure, low differential stress, with a moderate friction coefficient (μ∼0.6) on the Nankai subduction interface. Rayleigh‐wave dilatational stress is relatively weak at tectonic tremor source depths and seems unlikely to contribute significantly to the triggering process, except perhaps for an indirect role on the SAF in sustaining tremor into the Rayleigh‐wave coda that was initially triggered by Love waves.