I recently had my 4.0 Ranger in the shop because I thought I was having transmission problems. Rough kick like you described. My problem turned out to be a clogged up lower catalytic converter. Maybe the ticking you are hearing is the cats overheating? Restricted exhaust flow also effects air intake flow, which is related to transmission shifting. Just a thought. My (temporary) solution was to remove the lower cat, gut it out, and re-install it. No more shifting problems afterward. If you do this you will most likely have to replace the gaskets located at the flanges.
2006 Ford Ranger Sport 4x4 Ext Cab 4.0L Automatic - REDLINE synthetic ATF and gear oil. 10-ply All-Terrain tires. Flowmaster Delta 40 muffler. Volant cold-air intake. POR-15.