I know there will be some votes against this but I want to run a VPN alongside the Tor browser. Can I just open the VPN program, connect to the VPN provider, then open the Tor browser and use it as normal? No extra setup required?
TL;DR: No extra setup required.
Try to understand what Tor does. Tor builds a Proxy Chain for you to access the Internet. Your single request is routed through several different Tor nodes (known as relays) before reaching the host. The host only sees the IP address of the last node in your Proxy chain as the requesting IP address and returns the response to that IP. Diagrammatically, it would look something like this:
Your Machine ====> Tor Node 1 ==> 2 ==> 3 ==> 4 ==> 5 ==> Internet
Now what would happen if you also connect your machine to a VPN?
A VPN is like a tunnel which makes your OS believe that it is part of a private network, but the actual VPN server hosting this network may be a few hops away from your network. So effectively, when you connect to a VPN, all your traffic flows in the following manner:
Your Machine ====> N/W Hop 1 ==> 2 ==> 3 ==> 4 ==> 5 ==> VPN Server ==> Internet
Only the IP address of the VPN server is exposed to the Internet. Your VPN network adapter however remains oblivious to this route all it sees is:
Your Machine ====> VPN Server ==> Internet
When you merge run both VPN & Tor browser, the network path will look like this:
Your Machine ====> VPN Server ==> Tor Node 1 ==> 2 ==> 3 ==> 4 ==> 5 ==> Internet
This depends what you mean with "alongside". If you start your VPN all your traffic will be going over VPN, which means your setup is essentially VPN->Tor when using the Tor browser. Everything you do outside the Tor browser will of course only go over VPN.
So as to your question: yes you can open VPN and then use the Tor browser. This also hides the fact that you are using Tor from your ISP because your traffic first goes to your VPN and then to Tor. There should be no additional setup required.
If you're interested in Tor over VPN maybe this link will also provide further useful information:
You should definitely use a VPN while accessing onion websites for security measures and, of course, for anonymity. The best solution would be to use a Tor over VPN server. In this way, you will connect to a VPN server first, and after that, you will have all your traffic routed to the Tor node. Plus, you will be able to access onion websites without the Tor browser.
You can read more info here: https://www.ibvpn.com/2017/02/maximize-your-privacy-with-tor-over-vpn/