Recently discovered spin-dependent thermoelectric effects have merged spin, charge, and thermal physics, known as spin caloritronics, of which the spin Seebeck effect is its most puzzling. Here we present a theory of this effect driven by subthermal non-local phonon heat transfer and spectral non-uniform temperature. The theory explains its non-local behaviour from the fact that phonons that store the energy (thermal) and the phonons that transfer it (subthermal) are located in different parts of the spectrum and have different kinetics. This gives rise to a spectral phonon distribution that deviates from local equilibrium along the substrate and is sensitive to boundary conditions. The theory also predicts a non-magnon origin of the effect in ferromagnetic metals in agreement with observations in recent experiments. Equilibration of the heat flow from the substrate to the Pt probe and backwards leads to a vertical spin current produced by the spin-polarized electrons dragged by the thermal phonons.