What I did to silence the zipper pulls without cutting them off is to thread the nylon pulls through the pull tab so that they go through each end of the zipper pull. I've done it with the original Tom Bihn pulls as well as with 6" lengths of paracord (you can buy this at Home Depot now!)
Got any pictures of this setup? I was thinking about something like this having seen similar come standard on a few other non-TB bags. I have TB pulls that were hidden deep on the side pocket of my Aeronaut.