Building codes for a fireplace

So we are remodeling the room with the fireplace and want to make over fireplace as well. Before it had mantel and trim on sides. Wife wants just a one piece mantel with some sort if tile covering the brick. I understand the distance of combustible material to the firebox. I'm wondering if I can fill in around the fire place to the drywall with mortar or something to get a complete flat backing for tile or something.

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