Merino wool is supposed to wick but in practice it seems much like cotton to me. It might be a bit warmer. I haven't tried a 'technical' top but the tap test seems a bit suspect. When it is actually worn it will dampen over an area, not a spot.
You'll never stop yourself sweating, instead what these fabrics do is try and move it away from your skin as quickly as possible, so it can then evaporate. The tap test was just meant to be illustrative it's in no way scientific!
I've worked as a mountaineering instructor for 15 years now, as well indulging in a lot of outdoor stuff and I've seen a lot of kit in that time. There has been some massive strides forward and generally it's mostly good. Whilst I will get hot and sweaty walking up a hill I know that within a cuople of minutes of stopping I will be dry. That is something that will never happen with cotton.
My prefered layering at this time of year is a merino top, followed by a thin fleece jumper and a windproof fleece over the top. Magic, I dry out in no time with that if I do get sweaty. I'll swop the windproof for a Goretex if it's raining.