Consensus has it that I skip the sand, I'm definitely Ok with this. I hadn't even considered that I'd be building adobe like conditions under the compost. That could have lead to some headaches and some choice words.
I rarely turn the soil, let alone till and I certainly value excellent soil quality. I'm a firm believer that I don't actually grow plants. I build up soil, assist in establishing a suitable environment for microbes and animals, and they grow the plants. That said, I'd like to free up some of the nutes hanging out in the top couple of inches of the clay. Now, normally I would lay deep sheet mulch instead of tilling in the fall so that by Spring time I have some pretty great dirt to play in, but with this stuff I'm just not certain that's the best idea.
If I do end up tilling it, this will be the only time I do so and that's just to free up some nutes and create a transition layer between the "new" compost and the clay. I've done this before with really sandy soil and had great results. I'm also not worried about disturbing microfauna because it's virtually non-existent in this soil (yeah, it's really that bad - I'm pretty sure you could make pinch pots with this stuff). I'm also planning on introducing earthworms to the bed once it's been built up.
I'm totally new to clay though, so any advice you folks offer is definitely going to sit in my head for the next month or so until I have to make a decision. I've been really spoiled these past few years in the Upper Peninsula - the soil is generally pretty sandy, but it's pretty easy to amend. This clay nonsense is tough, but I love growing food so I have to figure it out. Thanks to the folks who have chimed in so far.