Well, to say you need programming skills is a bit overestimate. You can cope with these kind of thing with basic understanding of electronics and computer skills. I started 1 month ago with an arduino. and have solved most of my problems through forums and diy`s on the internet. And the most fun of, it im learning a LOT about electronics and programming. Had no experience what so ever with programming when i started out. Now a month later I'm able to rewrite codes so my sensors, servos and motors can do various tasks.
Im now happily running 4 ESC motor controllers using xbox 360 joystick via python program. (actually i can run even more if I want to. But my project only needs 3-4 motors and one servo) On youtube you can find hundreds of movies explaining you the basics (and some more) about python and c++ programming.
Here you have a very nice DIY for controlling using python. (im using this system now. took me 2-3 days to get it working)http://principialabs.com/arduino-python-4-axis-servo-control/
This program needs older versions of python. (2.5)
I think building a tank could be an awsome project. This because you have a fully operational tank once you get the first two motors running. later upgrades could be controlling the turret, implementing camera and various sensors. A cool feature would be a advanced upgrade like a gyro turret. Theres a TON of cool thing you can do with a tank. Only your mind is your limit.