[This is a version of the question that I've revised based on helpful comments from Dan.]
I haven't studied inflation at a technical level. My picture of the process is that we have an inflaton field $\phi$ which is a scalar and has a potential $V(\phi)$. Before inflation, the field starts at some $\phi_o$ that doesn't equal the value $\phi_m$ that minimizes $V$. It then rolls downhill to the minimum.
Assuming I have this right, what I don't understand is (1) why $\phi$ initially has a single value $\phi_o$ everywhere, and (2) what sets $\phi_o$. Before the onset of inflation, the universe's temperature was much higher than any scale set by $V$. When the age of the universe was on the order of the Planck time, presumably its temperature was on the Planck scale. If the temperature was that high, wouldn't thermal fluctuations cause the field to sample a wide range of values of $\phi$, contradicting #1? And if it could sample all those values, I would expect that thermodynamically, it would consist overwhelmingly of values of $\phi$ close to $\phi_m$, not some other value $\phi_o$.