Something that's telltale accidentally relays important information. A wise parent can tell who ate the last of the birthday cake by the telltale chocolate smudges on the culprit's face.
The telltale dark circles under your teacher's eyes betray how little sleep he got last night, and a telltale bulge in a shopper's pocket is sometimes enough for a store owner to suspect she's a shoplifter. If it's telltale, its very presence reveals something. A famous occurrence of telltale, although it's spelled with a hyphen, is Edgar Allen Poe's story "The Tell-Tale Heart," about a murderer who imagines he's betrayed by the telltale beating of his victim's heart.